May is IBD Awareness Month! (2017 Edition)
Happy IBD Awareness Month!
Or maybe “happy” seems like a slightly-off way to put it, as we would all be much happier if diseases such as these did not exist and we, therefore, did not have to be aware of them.
It is IBD Awareness Month!
Awareness months are a little weird, because you’re like 1 - why do I need to be aware of this? There are so many things to be aware of. And 2 - How do I help and become more aware? I’m busy and I have like three episodes of The Handmaid’s Tale to watch later.
Luckily, I’m here to answer both! I operate on the belief that empathy is pretty much the most important quality that exists in the world. Without empathy for others we would all just run around doing whatever we want all the time and we’d be living in an IRL version of The Purge. Lack of empathy is how you get people like Paul Ryan existing out in the world.
And, to put it simply, awareness helps build empathy. You may have heard of a disease like Crohn’s disease in passing, or from one of those terrible commercials, but chronic diseases become a hell of a lot more real when you know someone who is affected and that person tells you their story. That’s why I’m here doing this whole thing –– sharing is hard, but if it helps educate people and bring a little bit more empathy into the world, I’m so incredibly down to take one for the team and share like crazy.
And now on to part 2 - how do you help? Well, if you’re a genius prodigy child, get to work on developing a cure, please. If you’re literally anyone else, I’m here to outline a few quick and easy ways you can help the cause. They will take like 5 minutes of your time, and you will feel good about having helped someone(s)! Like the nice warm feeling you get when you don’t let the elevator doors close on a stranger.
Action 1 - Talk to a patient
IBD affects a truly wacky number of people, but a lot of them don’t feel incredibly comfortable bringing it up in everyday conversation. Odds are you know someone with IBD, whether you realize you do or not. If you do, a quick, easy, and free way to observe the month is to reach out to that person and say hey. Ask about their health, their life, their new favorite binge watch. Chronic illness can be incredibly isolating, and having people out there who you know care about you goes miles in helping.
Action 2 - Buy a shirt!
Here comes some shameless self-promotion, because I am who I am. From now until May 17th I’m running a t-shirt fundraiser with 50% of the proceeds being donated to my walk team, which directly benefits the CCFA. It’s a win-win for everyone because shirts are only $12, and you get to wear a badass design from a local artist while also helping colons. Click here to do the damn thing.
Action 3 - Wear purple on May 19th!
This is both easy and fun because it doubles as your monthly memorial to Prince. May 19th is IBD Awareness Day, aka the pinnacle of the whole awareness month. Purple is the signifying color of choice, and if you wear it on May 19th and tag me in a selfie of you in your purple, I’ll donate a dollar to CCFA. And then you can walk around all day being like, “I’m wearing this color for charity,” and your friends and co-workers will be forced to acknowledge that you are good and kind. Last year 40 people (and a few dogs!) participated.
Action 4 - Walk with me! (Or just send money!)
For a lot of patients (especially kids), the annual Crohn’s & Colitis walk is an event they look forward to all year. It’s got a super fun field day type vibe that reminds me of the happiest days of elementary school, and it brings patients and their loved ones together in a celebratory fashion that isn’t all about being sick. If you’re in Chicago on June 10th you can come walk with me and my friends and make ill-timed intestines jokes with us. If you can’t make it, send me your pocket change! I’m a competitive fundraiser and .83 cents of every dollar donated goes directly to really awesome things like researching much-needed cures and putting on events that increase patient quality of life.
The fact that you’re here, reading my blog, probably means you’re already way more aware than the average bear (or American voter.) Pat yourself on the back, buy yourself something pretty, and then do one of the things on this list. Me and my colon thank you.