One of the challenges with invisible illnesses is to try and raise awareness of something that you can’t always see. In many cases there is no outward ‘evidence’ of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, and so people often don’t know it is there, and how it can affect people.
While it’s easy for me to show off my ostomy bags and scars and say ‘this was due to Crohn’s disease’, not everyone with IBD has surgery, and not every case of IBD is the same. Some people have mild symptoms, some have severe symptoms, and not all symptoms are present in everyone. That’s why IBD sucks so much and why it’s so difficult to pin-point it and find a cure.
The other issue around IBD or any kind of bowel-related condition is that there is still a stigma around poo. Considering that pooping is something that everyone does (yes, even your celebrity crush poops), it is something that we all get squeamish and embarrassed about. Part of the reason why my ostomy surgery happened was because I ignored the symptoms, hoping that they’d go away. I often wonder whether I’d have even needed ostomy surgery if I’d spoken up to my GP about it sooner. That’s why awareness of these conditions is so important, to help ‘normalise’ it, and make it something that people aren’t scared to discuss with their GPs. Not only that, but it’s so important to show people who do have IBD that they are not alone in this. It can feel so isolating having a bowel disease (anyone who’s had a ‘dodgy tummy’, even if it was just from a 24-hour tummy bug, knows how debilitating it can be) and so reaching out and supporting others is something I strongly endorse (take a look at #GetYourBellyOut for example).
What’s even better is when a familiar face (or two) can help extend that support and awareness to a wider audience. That’s why I was so excited to see that Rylan Clark-Neal and Sam Faiers are helping launch the WALK IT for Crohn’s & Colitis programme.
WALK IT will take in inspiring routes of iconic sights at each location. Walkers will discover secret gems, taking in the landmarks we all know and love, all whilst raising money for a fantastic cause and having fun together!
The walks will be a true community event for the whole family, with entertainment, food and fun at every location!