NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — An estimated 3.1 million Americans have Crohn’s Disease or Colitis. More than 30,000 of those affected live in Tennessee.
For Nexstar’s Founder’s Day of Caring, WKRN is supporting the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation, an organization with a focus personal for Sarah Lancaster.
“I’ve been fortunate that in my 19 years with Crohn’s the disease has been somewhat mild, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy living with Crohn’s all the time,” said Lancaster.
Lancaster’s life changed when she was in elementary school. She started having unexplained stomach aches. More puzzling for her family was that as Lancaster’s identical twin sister grew, she didn’t.
“Over a two year span, I slowly became shorter, smaller and sicklier looking than Anna.”
Lancaster was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease at 10 years old. In the simplest explanation, this disease causes inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract. Medication can lead to remission but according to the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation, 70-percent of patients with these diseases will require surgery.
Lancaster has flare-ups which she describes as debilitating.
“My stomach just constantly hurts and feels like somebody is punching me in the stomach.”
After each flare-up, the process begins to find a new medication.
“When I have a flare-up and then go into remission, you can’t go back to that same drug because your body has built up antibodies against the drug a lot of times at that point,” explained Lancaster.
“Having the opportunity to have a tremendous amount of medications available where it’s not like, ‘Oh no, I’m down to 2 and what am I going to do when that runs out?’ What the foundation is doing and how that impacts me and so many others is huge.”
Lancaster volunteers with the Tennessee chapter of the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation, serving on one of the boards. She helps raise awareness and funds to support innovate treatments, research and above all, a cure.
“Through donors and through awareness that is how hopefully one day that will be true.”
Lancaster says what’s interesting about her case is that her identical twin sister, who has the same DNA, does not have Crohn’s. While the cause of this disease is not clear, research shows hereditary, genetic and environmental factors contribute to the development of it.
You can help support this worthy foundation by taking part in its biggest fundraiser of the year, the Take Steps Walk.
The goal is to raise $190,000.
Learn more about ways to donate and take part in the walk by clicking here.