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Hurts So Good – or, running for the cure of a disease you currently suffer from

Posted by on Apr 21, 2010 in BLOG, Joeline Conover, personal marketing | No Comments

My friend Joeline has a chronic disease. Here’s a catalog of what she suffers from: abdominal pain and irregularity; bleeding, fever, and anemia; weight loss from malabsorption and joint inflammation. Welcome to the Ulceritive Colitis party!

1.4 million Americans suffer from UC (and its cousin, Crohn’s disease) yearly – and that’s only the people who have sought help. Because UC and Crohn’s affects the colon and intestines, it doesn’t lend itself very well to lunchtime conversation. Or any conversation, really. As a result, many sufferers not only bear the physical pain, but a mental burden as well – embarrassment and alienation.

So what does my friend Joeline do? She tells everyone she has the disease. Then she gets her – and her husband’s – butt off the couch to run a half marathon and help fund a cure for it.

Like any sane human being, my first reaction was WTF?! I hate running, and I know Joeline does too. And I hate running even when I am not suffering from abdominal pain, bleeding, fever, etc. Joeline is running 14 miles for a condition that she currently has. Talk about a self-starter!

I had to ask her what she was thinking and thought you’d want to know too. So herewith – Joeline Conover on why you should care for her running to cure her disease.

You hate running, and have had Ulcerative Colitis for 10 years. Why choose to run a ½ marathon? And why now?

I’ve known a lot of people that have done races for fun and it always amazed me that they could give that sort of commitment. I’ve had this disease for close to 12 years now – I can’t really do much about it other than hope that someone will discover a cure someday. Scott and I have been meaning to get back into shape lately and I thought it’d be a great way to kill 2 birds with 1 stone – get in shape and hopefully help to fund a cure for this condition.

Running for worthy causes is not a new thing, but you’re the first person I know that is doing it while they are still afflicted with the condition they’re running to support. How has the support level been?
It’s been great, both financially and training-wise. There were quite a few surprise donations from friends or family that also have this disease – unbeknownst to me! Or have a close family member suffering from it. It’s been great to be able to empower people to feel like they’re actually able to do something to fight this.

As for the training, there are a lot of people on my team that also have either Crohn’s or Colitis, so it’s nice to be able to talk openly to others about it.

Will running in this race affect your condition? Did you need medical clearance to do this?
So far it hasn’t. My symptoms are more under control this year than in previous, so I feel pretty good right now. That’s not to say that I won’t have a flare up down the road, especially as the miles increase. I actually noticed yesterday, towards the end of our 5 mile run, that I was getting chills and some stomach cramping. I didn’t bring a water bottle on my run as they recommended, so for now I attribute it to dehydration, but I’m definitely going to keep a close eye on it.

As for medical clearance, I am due for another visit soon. Others on my team have the same disease and some are having symptoms on a daily basis. I’m guessing it’s ok so long as we keep our stress level down. One person actually no longer has a colon b/c the medications didn’t work, so after other surgeries, they finally just connected the small intestine directly to the rectum. And I can’t keep up with this person during our training runs!

What is the most debilitating/annoying part of your condition in your daily life?
Early on the most annoying part was not being able to get instructions from a doctor on what foods you should be avoiding to help your condition. They just don’t know. This disease affects everyone differently. It takes a long time of trial and error, but you will eventually get to know your body and what foods are triggers for you. Unfortunately, one common trigger for everyone seems to be stress. If you can’t control your stress, you’re doomed. A heated conversation or a stressful situation will almost always cause a flare-up for me. So it can be a big hinderance on the social and work life. Especially since it’s not something you can easily explain, like having a headache or being diabetic or something. Those are just easier things to talk about.

What happens if you don’t fork over $5200 at the end of the marathon? Nobody named Fingers coming to bust kneecaps, I hope.
We signed an agreement to raise that amount, so we have to pay it regardless if we raise the donations. I don’t want to see Fingers face to face, so hopefully we hit our goal soon! We are doing well with donations so far, but we still have $1500 to go, so we’ll have to start getting creative on ways to raise donations.

We each have to raise $2600, but since we’re a couple, we have to pull from the same family and social circles, which is tough. So, the earlier we hit our target, the better. We just want to concentrate on the training since that’s time consuming enough! I’m hoping we hit our goal early and ideally even exceed it. I just learned that there is a proposal to cut funds for IBD research next year by the current administration, so it’s more important than ever that we raise money now. Check out the funding issue here.

Fearless forecast: What will your time be at the end of the race?
For now, I’ll just be happy if I finish! I’ll let you know in July what my time was.

Joeline and Scott – thecommich and friends wish you good luck! Smash that donation goal and cross that finish line in a blaze of glory and the soundtrack of Chariots of Fire ringing in your ears.

Help Joeline and Scott run for a cure! Click here to donate.