Born in New York City and raised in Northern New Jersey; Jenice was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease at the young age of 10 and now has a permanent ileostomy. She is proudly both 1st & 2nd generation Afro/Indo Latina as a Cuban Puerto Rican Spanish American. And bilingual in English and Spanish while slowly learning Portuguese.
After so many years of not knowing others living with the struggles of IBD; she was blessed that when she came out the “bag”, so to speak, very publicly was on her birthday, her “Jesus year of 33”. That day an article was published that she participated in with the media company Buzzfeed for their Disability Awareness Week highlighting people who are differently-abled. She felt compelled to reply to the request on wanting to finally share her story, and was featured as 1 of 10 people having invisible disabilities that to the casual observer “doesn’t look sick”. It was also that year in 2016 she found and officially became a Girls with Guts member attending the Pennsylvania retreat. She finally discovered a new sisterhood, “her people”.
Initially, a student of the fine arts, due to her experiences with living with chronic disease led her into the medical field initially as an EMT. 14 years ago, on what almost was her deathbed, in a medically induced coma with every imaginable complication from the disease and subsequent back-to-back surgeries she miraculously coming out of that “relatively unscathed”. It was then she first realized that “making her mess her message” is her calling & passion; in sharing our stories, empowering and educating one another especially in advocacy & activism within our communities expressively the most marginalized.
Something that’s always bothered her and made her want to make and see a change, is how almost all depictions of ostomies and chronic disease only show that of older non-POC people. It can be discouraging to young people — especially minorities and people of color — who are already thrown by the transition of starting to live with a chronic medical condition. And that’s not including socioeconomic disparities, language barriers, access to the healthcare needed and many more other issues. We learn best from each other and supporting one another. That’s why she’s here doing her part in representing Latino/x people of color and is honored to be a part of the Community Connection!