Living with Crohn’s disease: One student’s story

November is Crohn’s disease awareness month, and a Florida Gulf Coast University student is bringing awareness to the littleknown disease through the Crohn’s Awareness Student Association (CASA).
Crohn’s disease is incurable, so after Pete Goodale was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease her freshman year of high school, her life was never the same.
“It’s an invisible handicap,” Goodale said. “Because of the meds and high school hormonal changes, I was so depressed and getting very little sleep. So to get a name was nice, but they still don’t know what the right meds are and I don’t know if I’m going to be sick forever. It’s not really a death sentence, but the complications of Crohn’s lead to a shorter life expectancy.”
Crohn’s disease is a chronic infl ammatory condition of the gastrointestinal tract. Symptoms include persistent diarrhea, rectal bleeding, urgent need to move bowels, abdominal cramps and pain, sensation of incomplete evacuation and constipation.
“According to the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America, Crohn’s disease may affect as many as 700,000 Americans. Men and women are equally likely to be affected, and while the disease can occur at any age, Crohn’s is more prevalent among adolescents and young adults between the ages of 15 and 35.”
“I have eight different prescriptions,” Goodale said. “I never really get hungry anymore. My nutrients for the day come from a slice of toast for breakfast and half a bagel for lunch.”
At the beginning of this semester, the senior psychology major had the plan to start a club or association to spread the awareness.
“I want to leave a legacy and help people talk about the disorder,” Goodale said. “I’d like to develop awareness and promote education. I’d like for it to be a place that people talk about it. Because of the embarrassing symptoms with the disorder this would be a safe haven for people to talk. ”
Goodale’s courage has left an impact on her club members and faculty adviser. “She is an inspiration to doing what you believe is right,” said Torey Flanigan, a sophomore CASA member. “I think she is an inspiration to Crohn’s as a whole.”
“She’s literally one of my best students and a terrifi c listener,” said Kathy Norris, Goodale’s faculty adviser. “I was shocked to hear what she was going through because she always turned on assignments on deadline.” Norris added, “I never knew of the physical hidden disabilities. They (people with Crohn’s) look perfectly healthy so you kind of question students if they are lying to you, but once I started getting doctor’s notes I started to realize she is surviving something every day that I can’t even imagine.”
There will be a CASA presentation and informational session in Sudgen Room 111 at 5 p.m. Nov. 13. This session will be open to questions about Crohn’s and the club. One of Goodale’s goals in November is that by the end of the month, everyone on campus has heard about Crohn’s disease and knows that what purple ribbon stands for.
“My message to the students is that I want them to understand what Crohn’s is and what people with Crohn’s go through,” Goodale said.