The need for more options: Stephanie Solomon-Marcovitch's story
Crohn’s and Colitis Canada is conducting a nationwide education campaign underscoring that treatments for Crohn’s and colitis are not one-size-fits-all, and that Canadians living with the chronic diseases need more options. Stephanie Solomon-Marcovitch from Toronto, Ontario has a dual diagnosis of Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Here is her perspective.
I was first diagnosed with Crohn’s disease at 16. I knew it was serious, but didn’t fully appreciate the impact it would have on my life. For the first few years, I managed to control my symptoms and go about my usual routine – I felt sick from time to time, but it was nothing compared to what I would go through a few years later.
While studying in Boston for my master’s degree, my symptoms suddenly worsened. I was forced to return home to Toronto for treatment, eventually leading to life-saving emergency surgery including a sub-total colectomy. A pathology report ordered by my doctors after the surgery showed I had ulcerative colitis. Based on this new diagnosis and an updated treatment plan, I had reversal surgery one year later.
Unfortunately, in the five months following the reversal surgery, I experienced a number of severe symptoms, both new and returning. I visited a number of specialists and tried a range of different treatments before my current GI was able to put the puzzle together: I have both Crohn’s and colitis. While the dual diagnosis helped bring clarity to the situation, it also narrowed my treatment options.
Another crucial moment in my life came in 2001 when I was once again facing a life-threatening situation. I experienced a massive hemorrhage requiring another round of emergency surgery - and a positive outcome was far from certain. I owe my life to the outstanding efforts of my doctors and medical team, including their use of interventional radiology, a new and innovative procedure at the time.
I made it through the surgery, but we still had to find a way to control my symptoms. There was one more treatment I hadn’t yet tried, and my doctor and I both knew if it didn’t work, nothing else would. Thankfully, it continues to work to this day – but if it stopped working tomorrow, I don’t know where I’d turn. Without my current treatment, I would have very little quality of life - or quite possibly no life at all.
I am living proof there is no such thing as a one-size fits all treatment for Crohn’s or colitis. Until we find a cure, we need to keep working to ensure new, innovative and effective treatment options are available to all Canadians with Crohn’s and colitis.