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Lauren Beach

State: Rhode Island

Chronic Condition: IBD

I was diagnosed with Crohn's Disease when I was 12 years old. After battling through hospitalizations, many courses of prednisone, seemingly every medication available to IBD patients, (some of them twice), and feeling chained to the bathroom, I wound up in emergency surgery due to a total bowel obstruction and had a colostomy bag placed at 19 years old. A few surgeries later, I am now 28 and live with a permanent ileostomy bag. My Crohn's is somewhat under control, but is still pretty active throughout the year.

I advocate to show that you can still live your best life with a chronic illness. Having to go through ostomy surgery was traumatizing at the time (let alone dealing with this ugly disease for most of my adolescent and teenage years), but it's almost been 10 years of life with my bag, and I want to offer inspiration to other young males and females going through this transition. Life can be tough, but there is always light at the end of the tunnel, and with a little bit of positivity and support from others, you can do anything you set your mind to, even with a chronic illness.