Battling Crohn’s disease won’t stop Claire from helping others
SHE may be stepping into the blue, but a Leamington student who suffers from a rare immune system disorder knows exactly what she wants to do.
Claire Hunt, a student at Warwickshire College, will be strapping on a parachute in August in aid of Crohn’s and Colitis UK.
She and a team of three others who suffer from the conditions have so far raised £2,400 for the charity by taking part in a sponsored skydive.
The former North Leamington School pupil is not simply doing the jump to raise awareness of Crohn’s disease, she is preparing for a career helping other sufferers, and takes her inspiration from one of the first people to care for her, a nurse who reassured her when she was having her first colonoscopy.
She said: “I was absolutely terrified and the nurse who was looking after me said ‘Don’t worry, I’ve had hundreds of these because I have Crohn’s disease’.”
Diagnosed at the age of 15, Claire had suffered from digestion problems since she was eight and has been on medication since she was 11.
When she was at school, many of her classmates thought she was skiving. Because she weighed just five stone, one even spread rumours she was suffering from an eating disorder.
When the disease was bad, she would have to go to the toilet 20 times a day and was often in pain.
She said: “I don’t go anywhere without figuring out where the toilets are first.
“It’s the most humiliating thing. That’s what was worst at school. It’s so embarrassing.”
Embarrassment is not the worst; around 80 per cent of sufferers need surgery at some point in their lives. Claire, who now lives in Brailes, near Banbury, had part of her small intestine and two parts of her large intestine removed in a six-hour operation when she was 17. She now has a large scar on her abdomen, while many sufferers have to have colostomy bags.
She said: “It takes away your self confidence and body image, especially as a woman.”
The condition prevented her from taking her A levels, and even in remission she can’t eat ‘trigger’ foods such as dairy products, wheat, meat, or drink alcohol. Now her ulcers are beginning to return, she battles fatigue and she has been told she is developing rheumatoid arthritis, an immune system disorder often linked to Crohn’s disease. Claire hopes the disease remains at bay until she has completed her studies, so she can help others.
She said: “I’m really lucky to have a great team behind me, but a lot of people don’t. They have to fight for a diagnosis and fight for their treatment.
“I’ve been determined because I really want to get where I want to be.”
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Tuesday 21 May 2013
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