I did it and you can too!

(by Mylinh Pham) 

In 2015, I landed in the hospital for 10 days due to my ulcerative colitis. Almost exactly 3 years later, I participated in the Surf City Half Marathon to raise awareness and money to help find a cure.

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I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis in August of 2014. I lost a ton of weight and hair, couldn't eat or drink, and was constantly in pain. Daily tasks like brushing my teeth became exhausting. After weeks of struggling with these symptoms and living in denial, my sister had enough and scheduled a doctor's appointment for me. From there, I was directed to a GI doctor who performed a colonoscopy and diagnosed me with ulcerative colitis.

I thought I was on the road to recovery and a normal life until I ended up in the hospital with another flare and c. diff, a potentially life-threatening bacterial infection in the colon. I was dehydrated, had half the normal blood count, lost more than 20lbs, and had a resting heart rate of 165. After 10 days in the hospital, I was grateful for my team of doctors and nurses, the support of family and friends, and the sacrifices my parents made and will have to continue to make, but it was then that I realized 'normal' and 'healthy' would mean completely different things to me.

Ulcerative colitis has taken a toll on my physical, mental, and emotional health, and while I've had my share of ups and downs, I have not reached clinical remission since my diagnosis. This disease was the reason I didn’t think I should or could do a lot of things, but that changed when I signed up for a Team Challenge event in 2017.

Joining the Team Challenge Family was one of the best, most empowering decisions I have made. For 5 months, I trained, ran, fundraised, and bonded with people I would soon call my family. These are people who constantly inspired me with their drive, passion, and experiences with IBD. They provided endless support for my family and me as we continued to learn the impact of ulcerative colitis on our lives. They were dedicated to finding a cure.

For the first time since my diagnosis, I felt like I finally took control and fought back when I crossed the half marathon finish line: I beat my goal time; I surpassed my fundraising goal; and I became stronger and more confident. I couldn’t have done it or even believed I could do it if I hadn’t joined Team Challenge.

I believe in the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation and I believe we will find a cure. As much as I hate running and asking for money, I hate the fact that millions of people like me suffer from Crohn's and ulcerative colitis every day even more, and I can’t wait to do it all over again.

Mylinh Pham

Team Challenge alumna & IBD fighter

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