My name is Madeline, and I am 18 years old. I currently attend technical community college but am transferring to a university in Virginia the fall of 2021. While in school I babysit/nanny part time. I was diagnosed with Crohn's disease earlier this year and I am excited to join the PAC. One thing most people don't know about me is that I love to sing.

So far, the greatest struggle I am having dealing with a chronic illness is my rejection from the US Army. I was already set to be shipped off to boot camp next year, when I got really sick and was then diagnosed. The military will not accept people with gastrointestinal conditions; even the chance of using a medical waiver is slim. I am trying to figure out how to fill that part of myself that feels empty from this event. This also affects my family because we need another way to pay for school expenses that the army would have covered.

I started volunteering at a local animal shelter as often as I can and have taken more families on as a nanny. Working with animals and kids makes me feel as though I am needed, and I am accomplishing something good. I am hoping that more volunteering will help me to cope with the loss of self-identity and feeling useless.

When I researched the PAC, I was attracted to the way they described bringing awareness of IBD to everyone, specifically younger people. Also, I was happy to learn that the members also support each other, which I can use, since I do not personally know many people around my age who have IBD. I hope that by joining the PAC, I can help to share information about IBD with teens. I feel that if I had known more about IBD, I wouldn't have gotten so sick and instead sought an explanation sooner. I do not want others to go through the same experience I went through.


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