She’s got guts

Danette Dooley
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Marystown resident hosting Crohn’s and Colitis Canada fundraiser this Sunday

Hope Collins of Marystown was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease at age 21, after suffering from severe abdominal pain for about a year, unable to eat or drink anything without throwing it up

Hope Collins of Marystown is hosting a Gutsy Walk for Crohn's and Colitis this Sunday. The event is being held at the Marystown Track and Field.

“I was really sick. I almost died from it. I lost 40-45 pounds from being so sick. I was in and out of the Burin hospital for almost a year. The last time I was in there was for a week. Then they rushed me to St. John’s,” Collins said during a recent telephone interview.

A specialist in St. John’s made the final diagnosis, and while it was a long time coming, things happened quickly to save the young woman’s life when doctors determined that her bowel had perforated.

“After they rushed me to St. John’s, I was in surgery the next morning,” she said.

INFLAMMATORY BOWEL DISEASE

Crohn's disease is a type of inflammatory bowel disease that can affect any part of the gastrointestinal tract from mouth to anus, causing a wide variety of symptoms including abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting and weight loss.

Collins’ surgery involved getting a colostomy.

A colostomy is an opening in the belly (abdominal wall) that is made during surgery. The end of the colon (large intestine) is brought through the opening to form a stoma. After a colostomy has been created, the intestines work just like they did before, only the colostomy, rather than the anus, becomes the exit for stool.

Collins had the colostomy reversed after nine months.

She said the support of family and friends helped a great deal during her sickness.

“There wasn't one day that I was alone and that helped a lot with how I accepted the colostomy,” she said.

She’s grateful as well, she said, to others who have supported her over the past few years, especially her employer, Bern Farrell.

“I had to leave work at (the grocery story) because I was so sick. I couldn’t do it anymore. I was off for at least nine months, but I’m back working for them now at the hotel. I’ve been off for two surgeries. I go back to work whenever I’m ready, and it’s never a problem getting off for doctors’ appointments. They’ve been great to me.”

Collins is now on a new medication called Remicade that she said is “doing wonders” in keeping her disease under control.

In addition to working, Collins is about to graduate from the College of the North Atlantic in Burin where she completed an office administrative executive program. She’s hoping to find work in her field, she said.

Collins said there are many myths about Crohn’s disease. It’s hard to explain how painful the disease is.

“It’s a horrible disease. You suffer so, so much with it, and the procedures you have to go through, even to get diagnosed, isn’t pleasant.”

FUNDRAISING FOR RESEARCH

“I was really sick. I almost died from it. I lost 40-45 pounds from being so sick. I was in and out of the Burin hospital for almost a year. The last time I was in there was for a week. Then they rushed me to St. John’s.” Hope Collins

This Sunday, Collins, now 24, will be among 15,000 Canadians taking part in the 19th annual Gutsy Walk for Crohn’s and Colitis. Money raised will help advance medical research into inflammatory bowel disease.

Over 233,000 Canadians suffer from Crohn’s disease and or ulcerative colitis.

Crohn’s and Colitis Canada hosts the Gutsy Walk. The event is the organization’s largest fundraising initiative of the year, according to Kathy Power, Crohn's and Colitis Canada’s development coordinator for Newfoundland and Labrador.

“We hope to raise more than $3 million across 59 local walk sites in just one day,” she said.

Power indicated one in every 150 Canadians suffers from Crohn’s disease and colitis - a rate, she said, that ranks the highest worldwide.

“The walk is an opportunity for us to walk together, showing those we care about that they are not alone.”

Organized by local volunteer chapters, Power said the walk is a fun and healthy way for individuals, businesses, teams and families to support those in the community living with Crohn’s and colitis.

“Many in Marystown and surrounding areas live with Crohn's and colitis, so it is likely someone you know is affected by this painful and often stigmatizing disease,” Power said.

The walk Collins is hosting takes place at the Marystown Track and Field Complex. Registration begins at 12:30 p.m. with the walk beginning at 1:15 p.m. There will also be numerous activities, including live entertainment, face painting and other activities for children, as well as prize draws and refreshments.

Collins said she’s excited to be giving back to Crohn’s and Colitis Canada and hopes others come out to support the cause.

“Crohn’s disease hasn’t stopped me from achieving anything. If anything, it was a motivator to make myself push through and accomplish my goals.”

She said she is optimistic there will one day be a cure for Crohn’s.

“And I’ll be waiting for it. I’ll actually be able to live life again.”

danette@nl.rogers.com

 

- To obtain pledge forms, contact Hope Collins at (709) 277-4432.

- You can also support her by donating online at http://crohnsandcolitiscanada.akaraisin.com/Common/Event/Home.aspx?seid=8101&mid=8

Organizations: College of the North Atlantic, Colitis Canada, Burin hospital

Geographic location: Marystown, Burin, Newfoundland and Labrador

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