My name is Norma. I’m 17 and I have battled ulcerative colitis since I was 10. I was born and raised in a small town near Mexico City, but a year ago my Mom and I moved to Los Angeles, California. Currently I am a senior in high school and hopefully next year I'll be attending Harvard University (YEP, HARVARD!).

For years I spent my time looking for someone to blame, it didn't matter who. I blamed myself for not being "normal" or healthy enough. I blamed my Dad (who battles UC as well), and I blamed God. I needed a reason for why I was going through such hell; why I couldn't attend school like my friends; why I had to take so many medications; why I had to go an outrageous amount of times to the restroom. I fell into a deep depression.

The worst part is that, at the time, I didn't realize this was affecting my parents as well. They lived every single step of the way with me. I think that having IBD is awful, but having to watch your kid struggle with IBD must be even more awful.

It has been a long journey. I don't know if I will ever be able to say, "I won!" However, I am now on good terms with my body; with my disease. I finally understand that yes, it is difficult, it will always be, but the actual question isn't "why me?”, it is "why not me?" I have learned a lot of things about myself, I am actually still learning, I have met incredible people, I even moved to a different country which I love, and all this is because of my ulcerative colitis. I am somehow grateful.

I love myself; the UC is a part of me and I love it as well. It is true that I hated it for so long; nevertheless, Norma De la Rosa wouldn't be who she is now if she didn't have ulcerative colitis.

In Mexico, it is very unusual that someone is diagnosed with IBD. Even in the best hospitals, the GI doctors don't have experience diagnosing or treating these kind of diseases. No one talks IBD; no one raises awareness. I wasn't aware that organizations like the PAC existed. I wish the 10-year-old me knew about it. My journey would have been a little bit easier.

When I learned about the PAC I got extremely excited. I want to help other people like me, I want to give support, I don't want those who are newly diagnosed to feel alone, and I want to raise awareness. Just like all the members in the PAC, I want to make a difference.

Thank you, PAC and ImproveCareNow, for giving me that chance! Thank you!


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