May 19th is set aside as World IBD Day. This is my third year participating since learning of its existence. Patient groups from around the world comprising of 40 different countries have set this day aside to come together as a collective group and raise awareness for those battling daily battles with their own intestines.

If you had asked me upon initial diagnosis if I would be advocating for myself and others, I would have told you “no.” I didn’t realize the seriousness of my disease back then. I didn’t know that I would have trouble gaining remission. I didn’t know that it might be a daily struggle. I didn’t know that there were approximately 5 million people around the world living with IBD. I didn’t know that some people die from complications of IBD.

I’ve been living with ulcerative colitis for five years now and I’ve learned a lot since then. Lost a few organs. Gained a few friends. These friends have become my best friends. We have a bond that cannot be broken. I’m reminded of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone when Harry, Ron and Hermione faced the troll in the girls’ bathroom. At the end of the chapter, it reads “There are some things you can’t share without ending up liking each other, and knocking out a twelve-foot mountain troll is one of them.” While that whole battle took place in a bathroom (how fitting), in the case of IBD’ers, the twelve-foot mountain troll is replaced by the digestive tract.

Yes, yes! I realize that the bathroom is only a part of what we go through. You see what I mean, though.

Knowing what I know now, I would encourage each person living with IBD to do their part in raising awareness. There are several ways you can do this, so I’m going to give you my top 5 ways you can raise awareness for World IBD Day.

Take Advantage of Social Media

Some people share posts on social media to educate their circle of family and friends what IBD is. It could be an article or a post from first-hand experience on how IBD has impacted their lives personally. It could even be a meme that expresses their frustration in a humorous way. Others change their profile pictures to graphics portraying IBD awareness. To me, these can be very effective because it starts conversations. Social media is a powerful tool for awareness and should be taken advantage of.

The Color Purple

There are those who use the color purple to raise awareness. Some simply wear a purple t-shirt; many of which state clearly what the shirt represent (i.e. “Support IBD Awareness!). Others use purple ribbons. Purple lipstick or nail polish is another way people choose to conduct awareness. Some even put a streak of purple in their hair or even go with purple hair all over. I believe these can also be effective because it starts conversations. Someone asks, Why is your hair purple? You can then respond, Let me tell you about Inflammatory Bowel Disease!


“Selfies” are another way to raise awareness. You’ve probably heard o the #GetYourBellyOut campaign where people took photos of their bellies (scarred or not) and posted them on Twitter. Others have taken “toilet selfies.” Or they take group photos with people who show their support in the fight against these wretched diseases. Others have taken infusion selfies or hospital selfies which show the very real side of IBD. All these are great conversation starters.

Tell Your Story

Blogging and/or vlogging (video blogging) is another way to raise awareness. This gets the message out there. I think it can be one of the most effective ways to raise awareness because people can share their personal stories for all the world to see. Every person with IBD has a story to tell and I feel like the more stories we have out there the better! Blog posts and videos are easily shared.

Organize a Fundraiser

Maybe you’re good at planning and can take advantage of those skills my raising money for the disease. A run, a walk, a bake sale, or even a charity auction are all great ways you can tell others about IBD and why you’re passionate about the cause.

Whatever you do for World IBD Day, I would encourage you to get out there are TELL YOUR STORY! The more conversations we start, the better our chances of finding cures in our lifetime.

Travel? With IBD? No Way! The only thing worse than a colonoscopy? Speed dating.

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