Running on a brisk October day in 2008, Keith Krause wiped the sweat from his face as he pushed through the last few miles and crossed the finish line, completing his second marathon. An astounding feat for most people (I for one get winded running two miles), Keith’s accomplishment had extra special meaning. Only three years earlier, he lay in a hospital bed wondering if he would ever be able to complete a marathon again.
Keith is just one of approximately 500,000 people in the United States suffering from ulcerative colitis (UC), a chronic disease that affects the digestive tract. I talked to him earlier this week about his experience dealing with UC.
Diagnosed in December of 1988, Keith has used exercise to as a way to keep up his strength and exert control over his condition. However, in 2005, his UC symptoms were so severe he had to be hospitalized twice, at one point being told he would need to try another treatment strategy to control his symptoms.
After determining a course of treatment with his doctor, Keith finally started to get control of his symptoms. As he regained his strength back, he looked ahead to running another marathon.
“I wanted to do a marathon to give me closure from the sickness,” Keith said. Three years later, after countless hours of training in all sorts of weather, he accomplished his goal.
Keith’s story is an example of some of the personal struggles many people living with UC deal with on a regular basis. In order to shed light on both the physical and emotional toll of the disease, the Digestive Disease National Coalition (DDNC) and Centocor Ortho Biotech Inc. have partnered on Voices of UC an initiative to educate and raise awareness of the condition. Through data from two new Manhattan Research surveys, Voices of UC captures the dual perspective of 1,000 people living with UC and 100 physicians who treat it. The program aims to not only shine a spotlight on the condition, but to encourage those who live with UC to talk about it with family, friends and especially, their doctors.
As for Keith, he’s planning to run his third marathon this spring. “I finally feel like I have my symptoms under control and it’s a wonderful feeling,” he said.
He encourages those living with UC to live their life as best they can. “You have the disease, don’t let the disease have you,” he told me.
For detailed survey results, tips on overcoming the challenges of UC and to learn of actor James Van Der Beek’s personal connection to UC, visit www.voicesofuc.com or become a fan on Facebook. For more information on UC, head over to www.livingwithuc.com, www.ddnc.org or www.ccfa.org.