This month we’re sharing stories and raising awareness for those living with inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD).
Given the invisible nature of these illnesses, there is a lack of education on how prevalent they are and how much they impact peoples’ lives. We caught up with Susan Hampton, the Leadership & Giving Officer at Crohn’s and Colitis Canada to learn more about these pervasive diseases. Susan is a wealth of knowledge and is helping us spread the word about IBD—we’re so grateful!
What are a few facts about IBD that some people may not know?
One person is newly diagnosed with Crohn’s or colitis every hour.
270,000 people in Canada live with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, that number is expected to rise to over 400,000 by 2030!
The prevalence of Crohn’s and colitis in Canadian children has risen more than 50% in the last 10 years.
Seniors (65+) are the fastest growing group of Canadians with IBD.
IBD is more than twice as common as multiple sclerosis or Parkinson’s disease; about as common as Type 1 diabetes or epilepsy; and, slightly less common than rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis.
Do you think that Crohn's and Colitis being "invisible diseases" has led to a lack of research and funding for them?
Many people have heard of Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, but they may not understand how devastating this disease can be to someone’s life. For some, it can be very isolating and debilitating. In many cases, they are unable to leave their house, hold a job, go to school or socialize with family and friends. People with IBD can appear healthy on the outside but on the inside, they suffer from inflammation and pain which can often lead to mental health issues like depression and anxiety.
It’s always amazing to see how many people you know are impacted by IBD once you begin talking about these diseases. The more we can talk about it, raise awareness and remove the stigma, we can begin to encourage more funding and programs unique to IBD. We also need to address issues like washroom access and understanding in workplaces and/or school for people living with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis.
If you could share some words of wisdom or compassion for those living with IBD, what would they be?
You are not alone. There’s a whole community behind you. Reach out to patient organizations who offer ways to connect locally and nationally along with education and support resources. Crohn’s and Colitis Canada has a wealth of resources to help people through their journey with IBD.
What would you like the future of IBD research, advocacy and funding to look like?
Ideally, a future where no funding is required as we have found the cures for inflammatory bowel diseases. In the meantime, there is so much great work that goes unfunded. Crohn’s and Colitis Canada is the second largest health-charity funder in the world. Last year, we funded 50 research projects and initiatives and there are many more we could have supported. Research is leading us to better understanding, advancement of treatments, improved care and getting us closer to finding a cure.
What are your favourite ways to honour IBD month?
Sharing people’s stories – whether it’s people living with Crohn’s or colitis, caregivers, healthcare providers or volunteers. We are so grateful to have a strong community.
Thank you for sharing your expertise with us, Susan! Until the end of May, you can donate to Crohn’s and Colitis Canada when you checkout. Donate today to shape the future of IBD!