One hot July evening, I had the privilege of hearing a young woman's story. She has a spark in her eye that makes you want to get to know her. Her story began when she was in the 5th grade when her entire family got the stomach flu. Everyone recovered but her. She lost weight and had stunted growth. In sports, she was knocked down easily and was slow to get up. This is not what a ten year old generally experiences. Her doctor did some tests and discovered she had both celiacs and crohns disease. She soon began a gluten free diet along with trying different steroids which made her puff up and break out. As a result, she was quite embarrassed as a child. She eventually began IV injections and currently gets them every two months for three hours at a time.
During her junior year in high school, she switched doctors and he suggested prednisone shots. One of the not so fun side effects made her hair fall out. The meds she was taking were no longer working so they tried another drug. The side effects were such that they could cause a rare form of skin cancer and could suppress her immune system. After much consideration, she began getting IV injections every two months for three hours at a time.
When asked about the hardest part of her journey she said, "There was one trial after another and I had to trust in God's plan." The steroids were consistently hard for her not knowing if they would even work. Even though her journey has been difficult, she is grateful that her relationship with God has grown. She gets encouragement from her faith community and one very special teacher/coach of hers from high school. She knows that people are made to be in community and that support has gotten her through.
When asked what advice she would give to someone who is going through a difficult time, she said, "I suggest strengthening your relationship with God so you can learn to give it all to Him! It is also important to build a community of support." In addition, her source of joy comes from taking spiritual retreats, spending time with friends, relaxing, playing soccer and camping with her family. Her outlook from here on out is..."If I can get through the lowest of times, I can get through anything. I've never blamed God. I take up my cross daily and I'm learning acceptance in my journey with Him." Above, is her journey depicted through a piece of artwork.