In 2004 at the age of 17 I was diagnosed with a severe case of Crohn’s-Colitis. After gut wrenching pain and major weight loss, fevers, a blockage, fistulas,emergency surgeries, having my large intestine and rectum removed, infections, 60 pounds of fluid gain, Anemia, medication, blood transfusions, IVs, blood counts, MRIs, CT scans, steroids, wounds, an ostomy, scars, losing my hair, and learning how to walk all over again, I am now 25. I still re-live my past almost every other day, but I remain with my shoulders high, and I walk with pride. It’s a heaven-sent feeling to be able to take a breath of air and walk around this beautiful earth. Day by day is a struggle, but I fight like a ninja to get through. I’m so very lucky to be alive and I thank the Lord every day. On some days I feel like I can’t get through it, but my happy days overpower those days.

Before I was diagnosed with Crohn’s, I was sick all the time. I NEVER got a break from pain or the bathroom. At this moment my knowledge and awareness with anything to do with IBD is, I can guarantee, higher than any doctor or nurse that has a degree. On paper is nothing…having to deal with it firsthand is everything. I struggle on some days – I’m only human. But on the other days I’m stronger then any superhero and I feel like I could rule the world.

My body image today is different then it was when I was 17, but I’m OK with that!! I’m living and I’m strong. I’m alive and I’m free from my disease. I’m blessed and I’m not on medications. I’m aware of how bad evil is and I will fight evil straight in the eye!! I’m not scared of anything anymore!! Life is good – life is short – and i will continue living it to the fullest. God is love =).

I’m using my experience as a career choice. I’m currently looking into becoming an enterostomal therapist or something along that line in the medical field. Having an ostomy has changed my life for the better. At first it was super hard to deal with; I thought my life was over. I felt so alone inside and I really thought I was going to lose friends and that I would never have a boyfriend again, As time went by I learned that having this ostomy has given me a totally different outlook on life. It makes me want to teach people about my lifestyle. I was saved because of my ostomy. And I’m living a life that i never thought was possible. I also have walked in the Take Steps for IBD event to help raise awareness!! Knowledge is power!

I do not let this disease overpower me. I still do the things I love to do! Dancing relieves my stress and it’s also my workout! I can do the same things that any other person that doesn’t have this disease can do. One last thing and most important…being intimate was a problem for me in the beginning. But I’ve seen firsthand it was never an issue – with past partners or with my present. I never had to walk away from anyone because of it. I’m a straight-up person and being honest with myself keeps me honest and truthful with others.

I am beautiful still…no matter what my body appearance is. Like Eminem says, don’t ever let anyone tell you you ain’t beautiful!

Karen’s Story: I’ll keep on running Coming out of the IBD closet

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  1. iamfabx says:

    wow, one of the most amazing stories I’ve come across so far. You go girl 🙂

  2. shalana says:

    Thank You Charis for posting this for me =) and iamfabx thank you hun..

  3. Venus says:

    Lovely…pay it forward! You are blessed with your perspective and what you give you will get back

  4. Keith Batten says:

    very well written shalana. You’ve come thru this like the champion you are and we admire you for it. we love you very much and are very proud of you. keep up the excellent work.

  5. Debbi says:

    BEAUTIFUL IS AS BEAUTIFUL DOES! You my friend ARE BEAUTIFUL! I understand your journey far to well. I am still searching for the light at the end of the tunnel. This gives me hope, strength and to continue my own fight. Then one day I can write my own story. 🙂 Thank you for sharing yours. Your journey will always be on going but you have the power to fight! Take good care of yourself, from another Crohnie 🙂

  6. shalana says:

    Thanks Debbi, Keep your head up and fight threw it like a ninja =)

  7. Sarah Beatty says:

    Shalana, your sister commented on my post on Facebook for the group girls with guts. She told me to contact you. I am going to be having my first surgery for crohns soon and am very nervous. You can find me on the groups wall on Facebook. Sarah Katherine Beatty. I hope to hear from you!

  8. Caitlin McGinnis says:

    I just saw this website and my story is very similar to yours except I just had UC not crohns. I’m 25 and currently have my third ileostomy that might be temporary or I might make it permanent. Haven’t decided yet. I will share my story on here. I am also in the process of writing a book about my experience as well.

  9. sunshineshay says:

    Caitlin Im 25 as well. Do u have facebook? and I am Currently writing a book to from my experience too =) wow cant not wait to hear your story.

  10. Melissa says:

    Hello my name is Melissa. I would love to chat with you sometime I have had some of the same issues. Thanks

  11. shalana says:

    Hey Melissa do u have email or facebook?

  12. Ryan Carroll says:

    Shalana, this is Dr. Ryan Carroll from DHMC. You left a message for me in Chicago right before I left and moved to work in Boston. I’ve been unable to pull that message from the phone. I have your “Reality Sucks” essay in front of me and I thought I’d try to re-connect. I hope you’re well. Sincerely, Ryan

  13. sunshineshay says:

    Omg!!! How have you been, I did call you in Chicago lol.. Tried to find you!! Are you working at Boston Hospital now? Are you on facebook? I can be reached at, Would love to chat.

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