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I love my perseverance

I am a second-year engineering major. I tend to be a very academically driven person with high expectations of myself. I love my perseverance, but sometimes my own determination to achieve my goals is my biggest stressor. In my mind I set goals for myself constantly. And naturally when I don’t meet my goals, I am disappointed.

These habits manifest in many facets of my life, but particularly in my academic life. I set goals for tests and grades and expectations for interactions. When I don’t do as well as I would like, it can be rough, and I end up stressed out.

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I was torn between needing to rest, and not wanting to miss out

I had the pleasure of attending the ImproveCareNow Fall Community Conference in Chicago in September. I had a great time meeting my fellow PAC (Patient Advisory Council) peers in person! They helped guide me through the various panels and workshops. I do admit that there were times when I felt overwhelmed. Not necessarily in a ‘negative stimulus’ overload, but overwhelmed with information, discussion, and flow of support from my own peers, parents and families, administrators and providers. There was one point during the conference, quite early in the morning, perhaps no later than 10:00am, where I was struggling to keep my eyes open – my old friend fatigue was back. I had to excuse myself to go back to my room to take a nap. Guilt, another familiar friend, greeted me. I was torn between needing to rest and not wanting to miss out on learning.

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Our involvement with ICN has been a family affair

Hello Fellow Improvers! I am Nicole and I have been part of the ICN Community for four years. During this time, I’ve been grateful to enjoy several Community Conferences and have been an active participant in improving care both at the national level with the ICN Parent Working Group (PWG) and locally as the Co-Lead of the Parent/Patient Advisory Team (PPAT) at my care center in Massachusetts. I'm pleased to introduce my family to you!

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IGNITE - I choose to ask the hard questions

"Everyone's story matters, and is important, and can change someone else's story!" - Sami Kennedy

Stories matter! They connect us; build awareness, understanding and empathy; they unite us in our pursuit of a common goal and sometimes they even ignite (or reignite) our passion for the work that lies ahead. When PAC member Maddie shared her story – her #IGNITETALK – at our Fall Community Conference the energy in the room was palpable. Here’s the transcript of her talk.

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Relearning to Live

Sure, my parents drilled the whole “eat healthy, sleep well, drink water” thing into me and my sisters, but that was never entirely applicable to me. I had different rules. Having had Crohn’s disease since an early age, I was always seriously underweight and struggled to get enough nutrients. The goal for the first decade of my life was to eat as much as possible and specifically fatty foods that would build up my mass. But I was never hungry anyway; eating always ended in pain so getting enough food into me was truly quite difficult. I even tried supplemental nutrition drinks like Pediasure, Boost, and Kids Essentials but it wasn’t enough to help me gain weight.

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Patient Perspectives: Nutrition & IBD – a New Resource for Patients by Patients

My name is Maddie. I am a member of the Patient Advisory Council (PAC) and a contributor to the PAC’s latest IBD Resource – Patient Perspectives: Nutrition & IBD. This booklet is very important to me and the other contributors who have used nutritional interventions to treat and manage their IBD.

Nutrition is an important part of life and for IBD patients it can play an essential role in overall health. Nutrition can be used as a primary treatment, as well as secondary or complimentary treatment, which can support overall well-being. Sharing our experiences with nutritional interventions helps us raise awareness of how nutrition fits into real-life IBD treatment and management. It allows us to offer support and reassurance to other patients who are making decisions about or coping with nutritional interventions – that they are not alone.

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Join Us - Fall 2019 Virtual Community Conference

Twice-yearly ImproveCareNow Virtual Community Conferences seek to connect and grow our widely distributed and diverse community in pursuit of our purpose to improve health and care for all children and youth with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. We invite all people wishing to learn more about and get involved with ImproveCareNow to join us on October 23 between 6 and 8pm eastern for our Fall 2019 Virtual Community Conference. Read more to see the agenda for this event.

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A 504 plan helps school staff understand how they can support you

High school can be one of the most interesting times of your life. It’s fast-paced and you are faced with new challenges, experiences, subjects and adventures! High school is a challenge on its own and having IBD makes it even more difficult, especially because of its unpredictability. Going through one of the worst flares of my life during high school, I missed tons of school, and sometimes even when I was present, my body was so tired that I could not pay attention well. It was around this time that my school nurse told me it would be a good idea to get a 504 plan.

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IGNITE - Find your purpose and help others

NO ONE can prepare a parent to hear that their child has to live with a lifelong medical condition and that there is NO CURE.- Maria Lester

Maria has lived through this twice. The first time was when her oldest daughter was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at 4-years-old. Then, nine years later her youngest was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, Celiac disease, and Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis at 6-years-old. After each heartbreaking diagnosis, Maria remembers reassuring her children that everything would be OK. And in those moments, she found her purpose – she was going to do everything in her power to make sure it would be OK. She dove in headfirst, connecting with disease communities to get support and learn all she could about these diagnoses. She said yes to opportunities to partner - to contribute her time and talent to improve the lives of not only her children, but other families walking the same path she has walked. Through this she has learned a powerful lesson – “that when you find your purpose, you realize there is a cause bigger than yourself and shows you the strength you never thought you had.”

Below is Maria’s full #IGNITETALK from our Fall 2019 Community Conference. As you read her words, ask yourself: what is my purpose?

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