By Andrea Kewish 

My journey with Crohn’s disease started long before I was diagnosed as it does for most. 

I was in my early 30’s and needed surgery for a fistula. A few years later I became a mum. I share this because I want you to know I was sick and I was still able to be a mum. I hope that gives hope. 

At 37 years old I was finally diagnosed after 4 long years. 

I thought I was going insane telling people I was so unwell and nothing could be found even though my inflammatory markers were through the roof. 
Another colon surgery for the fistula followed and since then multiple setons have been inserted and removed or fallen out over the past 17 years. 
I went to a CCA forum 15 years ago and my current gastroenterologist was a speaker. A set of bizarre circumstances occurred and we crossed paths again. Fate had taken its course and he became my specialist. Now in the top 5 most important people in my life. 
My meds were changed immediately but after a couple of years surgery was my only option and I’m glad I had it. 
At the time I was fortunate to be one of the last patients who went into the POCER study. On to bio meds. That was 12 years ago. 
I’m lots of procedures in including a mucosal advancement flap and a resection surgery but I have been taking ustekinumab for the past 5 years. 
I’m well and truly in clinical remission and grateful but still feel pain from time to time. I have IBS and fructose malabsorption and had some reactions to some of my COVID-19 vaccinations. 
I started seeing a gut health specialist dietitian and he has changed my day-to-day life by helping me find which foods were not being well tolerated by my body. 
I am able to work as an account manager in a fast-paced promotional apparel and merchandise industry with CCA as one of my clients. 
I’m 54 now and nervous about my med choices as I get older but I know I have a great team in my corner. 
I participate in studies if I have time because it’s so important to me that I can help by sharing my experiences and where I think help is needed for patients based off my own experiences. I hope my participation helps future IBD patients and particularly young ones get the help they need now and in the future. 
This disease creates many challenges for relationships – family, friends and work but I want you all to know WE are all WARRIORS . 
All these supported trials and studies have changed the care so much for patients in my 17 years as a Crohn’s patient. 
I’m hopeful for the finding of a cause and then a cure.