Gut of the Month - Mar 2009

Sarah Howe (Belleville, Ontario)

(Archived Guts: Brittany Kelly, Michael Kelly, Ashley Senuita, Karissa Schmidt, Kaella Carr, Jesse Scobie & Neil Kirby, Prednisone Princesses, Sarah Howes , Michelle Aubie, Natasha Rossi)

My name is Sarah Howes and I am 17 years old. I live in a small town between Belleville and Nappanee Ontario. I go to Quinte Secondary School, where I am part of the Quinte Saints Swim Team, and the Student Council Vice President. Outside of school I take voice lessons, I write my own songs, I am part of the 4-H calf club, and work on my uncle’s farm on weekends. As well this winter I started modeling bride’s maid’s dresses for two local bridal boutiques.

I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease five and a half years ago when I was 11 years old. My diagnosis however wasn’t easy. Several months before I was diagnosed I started losing weight, and was in a lot of pain, but I didn’t know why. Some doctors thought I was anorexic, others thought I had a parasite. All this time while people were trying to figure out what was wrong with me I kept losing weight. I went from being around 130 pounds to 80 pounds. As if the stress of being sick and not knowing what was wrong with me wasn’t enough, my one friend became very jealous of me. I’m to this day not sure why, the only reason I can think of for her to have been jealous was my rapid weight loss. As well, teachers and friends who I had known for years would look at me and their jaws would drop as they saw how thin I had become. Finally after several months of suffering and the dreaded colonoscopy it was discovered that I had Crohn’s disease.

I started out on prednisone to help me gain back the lost weight and to help with the pain, I also started taking Salofalk. Since I was so sick with my Crohn’s and just wanted to feel better I didn’t realize the side effects that prednisone would cause, so needless to say I went from being very thin to being balloon like. As if gaining the weight wasn’t hard enough, soon the clothes that I had always worn began to not fit. Finally I was weaned off the Prednisone. I was just starting to lose some of the weight that the drug had caused me to gain, when I started to flare up again. Apparently the Salofalk wasn’t strong enough. So back on the Prednisone I went, as well I started taking Immuran. Finally after what seemed like forever I was weaned off the Prednisone again, and remained on the Immuran. I have been taking Immuran ever since and have been flare up free.

I have been volunteering for the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of Canada for the past five years with the Belleville Chapter. Each year I participate with the Heel n’ Wheel a-Thon and have been the honorary chair for the walk for two years. I also volunteer on M&M Meat Shops Charity Barbeque Day. Several years ago I also participated in the “What Makes Me Smile” calendar contest for CCFC, and won. My picture was printed as the month of April.

I used to think that having Crohn’s would be a burden, or keep me from doing the things that I wanted to do, or eating the things I wanted to eat. However I have not missed out on anything. I can still do any thing my friends do, and eat anything they eat.

I have one message for people out there who are suffering Crohn’s disease: If things are bad now, don’t worry, they will improve. I thought that I would suffer for the rest of my life, however right now I am having the time of my life. Hang in there and don’t give up. Together we can do this; together we can find a cure.

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Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of Canada