My name is Salma and I am 16 years old. I am a senior in High School. I was diagnosed with Crohn's disease when I was six years old, after being in and out of the hospital for two years. I was actually born in Casablanca, Morocco, but my family and I moved to the U.S. when I was three.

“You feel your strength in the experience of pain.”

This quote by Jim Morrison is one I can relate to when I think about my experience with a chronic illness, even with all the struggles I write about in this post.

One of my biggest struggles with IBD is being able to have a social life. I have been in and out of the hospital a lot since I was four, so it’s always been really hard to hang out with friends or go out to fun places on the weekends. My life has always been centered around hospital, school, and family. I've gotten used to it, but it can be hard not being able to relate to the people around you when you live a different life. There isn't much I can do to overcome this struggle because it has a lot to do with my spontaneous flares. However, I do try to be open and talk to people even if we might not be "besties".

Through my illness, I have become very close to my family, especially my mom. I tend to go to her to talk about any “friend topics”. I have learned that I am a little more mature than most people my age since I spend most of my time relating to people who are older than me. Not to mention, dealing with a chronic illness can really make a person grow up!

I was initially interested in the PAC as a way to meet people in similar situations as I am in. I think knowing or having a group of people who can understand what you are going through is really important, especially with something that I’ll be living with my whole life. I hope the  PAC can support me in overcoming my social obstacle by allowing me to have a group of people I can talk to. The PAC can also help me help others because they have a platform that lets people connect with one another. Since I have personally gone through what feels like nearly every single Crohn's treatment, I have a lot of experience under my belt! I have always wanted to be a pediatric gastroenterologist so I am hoping that my partnership with the PAC and ImproveCareNow will give me some real life skills to communicate with people and work hands-on with projects that can help others with this disease. I think it will broaden my knowledge about IBD and maybe help in my future career. Either way, I feel confident it will be a great opportunity.


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