I’m Fionna and I am 18 years old. I am a freshman in college, thinking about studying engineering, but haven’t decided yet...so that may change! I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis when I was five and primary sclerosing cholangitis (liver complication) when I was seven.

Last year I started fencing at school. I love it! Sabre is my favorite.

As I recently moved to college, a couple states away from home (Colorado to California), I have been working on becoming more independent with my chronic illnesses—remembering to take my medications, knowing when I need meds refilled, and knowing when my next doctor appointments are. My family is very supportive! Starting in high school, I wanted to become more open about my chronic illness, how it affects me, and to raise awareness—so I started telling more of my friends (a couple of them had known for a while). I advocate on Instagram @liver.a.lil.louder and am excited to join the PAC to meet more people!

My mom began encouraging me in middle and high school to set out my own meds for the day. She would remind me at home to take what I needed, but sometimes she even had to bring them to school if I forgot…oops. As I got closer and closer to graduating, she kept reminding me that I would need to soon do this on my own. So, toward the end of high school I got a weekly pill organizer with removable day organizers to be able to easily take my medications throughout the day. Plus, with a week’s notice it also helps me know when to reorder my prescriptions. I always knew it was important for me to consistently take my meds, but I’m the kind of person who never wants to stop what I am doing to do a “little thing” like actually taking them. But it has felt good to learn that I can do it myself, I will be okay and I can take care of myself in little ways like this every day.

Beyond this, I have enjoyed the experience of becoming more independent in a broader scope of my health—learning what food to eat at the dining hall (due to allergies and also just to be a healthier person). I’m exercising even when I have mountains of work to do. I created a workout group with some freshman girls, so we encourage each other and go to the gym together. I have started fencing which is a great break on the weekends. Being active outside was a big part of growing up at home with my family whether it was hiking, skiing, running, rafting, or kayaking. I wanted to continue this practice through my life, but with the adjustment to college, I have learned it does take some effort to cut out time. I am working on methods to fit in all in; it’s still a work in progress. I have been a very picky eater for as long as I can remember, so I’m starting to develop healthy eating habits and expanding the variety of food I eat. I have also been practicing and advocating for my mental health and reaching out to get help. Especially at college, I have a lot of great resources near me, so I have been trying to use them when I need them.

I was attracted to the PAC because I enjoy advocating and raising awareness of IBD and would like to be able to reach others like me, who have the same goals. Additionally, by the joining the PAC, I will contribute to and benefit from the support network of PAC members. I am especially interested in providing tools and resources to IBD patients who are becoming more responsible young adults in general and with respect to their illness.


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