Crohn’s disease is an autoimmune disease, but the precise cause is not known. Having family members with Crohn’s disease probably increases the risk of developing the condition. When a person with this inherited risk is exposed to a trigger (an illness or something in the environment), the immune system is activated. Crohn’s disease causes ulcers to form in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract anywhere from the mouth to the anus. Symptoms include stomach cramps and pain that comes and goes, diarrhea and blood in your stool.
Other symptoms include losing weight, feeling sick to your stomach, having joint pain and feeling tired. Some people who have Crohn’s disease have severe symptoms, while others have less severe symptoms. Some people who have the disease have long periods without symptoms, even without getting treatment. Others with more severe disease will need long-term treatment or even surgery.
Crohn’s disease is a chronic, recurrent inflammatory disease of the intestinal tract. The intestinal tract has four major parts: the esophagus, or food tube; the stomach, where food is churned and digested; the long, small bowel, where nutrients, calories, and vitamins are absorbed; and the colon and rectum, where water is absorbed and stool is stored. The two primary sites for Crohn’s disease are the ileum, which is the last portion of the small bowel (ileitis, regional enteritis), and the colon (Crohn’s colitis). The condition begins as small, microscopic nests of inflammation which persist and smolder. The lining of the bowel can then become ulcerated and the bowel wall thickened. Eventually, the bowel may become narrowed or obstructed and surgery would be needed
Rob Hill Crohn’s disease became a lot worse, and his bodyweight dropped from 185 to 105 pounds. After a year and a half, it started to be very clear that his colon, needed to be taken out.
Not long after surgery, Rob started getting active again, running and eventually competing. In his lowest moment, he had not been able to climb the stairs in his house so regaining his fitness became a very personal challenge. Recovering mentally would take longer.
When Rob was sick, he learned an aunt of his also had Crohn’s, a fact she had never shared, even with close family members. Through her experience, and his own, Rob realized how destructive the stigma surrounding intestinal diseases and having an ostomy can be. How it can isolate you, keep you from reaching out and getting help. Rob decided he had to do something about it.
The Seven Summits campaign, which we call “No Guts Know Glory” grew from Rob’s love of sport, adventure and the outdoors. By taking it to the extreme, and on a global basis, Rob hopes to show people everywhere that having these diseases or having an ostomy, like Rob does, shouldn’t stop you from leading a full life. You may not be able to climb mountains, but there are so many other things you can do.
To further this goal, Rob started the Intestinal Disease Education and Awareness Society (IDEAS), from his home base in Vancouver, British Columbia. Rob also approached ConvaTec, whose ostomy products he wears, to sponsor his climbs, and became a member of the Great Comebacks™ family. This global program has allowed Rob to speak in many countries, alongside his climbs and through local patient and professional organizations.
While reaching the top of each mountain is a great accomplishment, with respect, Rob says removing the social stigma associated with these diseases and having an ostomy is a far more daunting task. A task which will require much more than his voice on its own, so Rob hopes you add yours in letting people know they are not alone. One of the young people Rob recently met said, “this isn’t really about climbing mountains, it’s about moving them.”
Rob will attempt his final 7 Summits climb in the spring of 2010–up the south route to the top of Mount Everest in Nepal–thanks to the generous support of Abbott Laboratories and ConvaTec.
If you’d like to contact Rob directly, please send an e-mail to rob @ nogutsknowglory.com