My name is Rhea - I'm 17 years old and currently a senior in high school. I was diagnosed with Crohn's disease when I was 16 and will be starting Humira soon. One interesting thing about me is that I absolutely love children. I want to study pediatrics in the future!

I’m currently struggling to find the right treatment for me. After taking prednisone, I thought that I would be in remission for a while, but unfortunately that was not the case. It's hard to balance school and extracurriculars with my endless doctors visits and procedures. I get stressed very easily, not only with my school work, but also with worry that I might flare-up soon. I’m anemic, so not having the right treatment has also led me to feel really tired, making it hard to carry out daily activities or hang out with my friends.

To cope with Crohn's disease, I choreograph South Asian dances. This allows me to be comfortable letting out my pain and take back control of my body. I also have a health coach who helps me with yoga, meditation, and my own personal diet to manage my Crohn's. I do have a strict diet, but I cook my own fusion recipes and try to make my food taste amazing!

Lately, I've been resting and giving myself time to clear my mind, instead of stressing out. My family gives me endless support and always tries to comfort me when I'm feeling scared or down. My school counselor helps me with accommodations. Both my parents and my counselor encourage me to talk and let out my feelings. What I have learned about myself is that I need to actively think about the positives rather than holding onto the negatives of my illness. When I think about how much I've grown from my experience, and how much support I have for the rest of my life, it makes me feel extremely happy!

Even though I have people to support me, many of them don't know exactly what I'm going through because they do not have IBD. With my experience so far, I've learned that I need to talk to people who actually experience IBD, even if it's discussing the smallest things like the weird side effects of medications. Being part of the PAC helps me remember that I'm not alone in this journey. As part of the PAC, I hope to help improve treatments, since they're not effective for everyone. I also want to inform patients of ways to cope with and manage pain, other than taking medications. Most importantly, I hope to work towards finding a cure for IBD. I'm so happy to be part of the PAC!


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