I found out about 11 Health from a few good friends of mine. I met them at the UOAA conference in 2017 and stayed close throughout the years. They told me about an incredible program helping others who’ve been through similar situations as us.

As a patient coach, I plan to be there for others the way I wish someone was there for me. Helping others, helps me! Back in 2010, when I was 19, I had a 4-month-old and was faced with another flare from my Ulcerative Colitis. It wasn’t new to me, but something I had hoped to have left in my past. I was told, “Have an ostomy, or orphan your son.”

Those words were the scariest. After debating for a few days to keep fighting or “give up” (in my eyes, it was giving up), I decided to have my entire colon removed and have a temporary ileostomy; and later a J-Pouch. Nine years later, I can say I’m completely happy with my J-Pouch and can’t imagine my life without it. I’ve been given a second chance at life. I still get to travel all the time and my family even stopped asking, “Can you handle this for dinner?” It’s a freedom I never thought I could have before my surgeries. My advice to everyone out there, NEVER GIVE UP. It can get hard, and sometimes dark, but there is light and it gets better. Also, listen to your body; it knows what’s best for you! Sometimes we don’t like to listen, but take the time to stop and feel how it truly feels and not the persona you want it to be. You will be able to handle so much more if you do!