Two women are working to break the stigma and improve lives this World Inflammatory Bowel Disease Day.Advertisement
World IBD Day takes place on 19 May each year, and unites people in their fight against Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
Victoria Danson and Kelly Bracewell are both affected by IBD. They met through the Crohn’s and Colitis Support Group Lancashire, which Victoria founded in 2017 after realising there was a lack of support for people with the lifelong conditions.
Kelly, who is from Bamber Bridge and works as a Research Fellow at UCLan, explained: “In 2009, at the age of 19, Victoria was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease.
“Aged 24 she was rushed in for emergency lifesaving surgery, with a perforated bowel, abscesses, and sepsis and in absolute agony. Victoria woke up in ICU with a stoma, her previous worst nightmare.
“After spending around 10 days in hospital Victoria was sent home. There was no help or mental support out there. This inspired Victoria to set up the support group helping people in a similar situation to herself.”
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The group has grown and now sees members travelling to Chorley from all over Lancashire. They meet on the last Wednesday evening of every month at Buckshaw Community Centre. Those who can’t travel access support online via Facebook and the website.
Members share inspirational stories and discuss their anxieties and concerns. Speakers also attend the meetings to offer advice about nutrition, stoma care and the latest research.
In addition to running the support group, Victoria works alongside professionals including doctors and stoma care companies, and has helped many patients come to terms with their diagnosis. She has featured in the media to spread body confidence for those living with a stoma, and now holds stoma workshops at Ribby Hall Village in Kirkham to bring people together and help them through their journey.
One member, Sam, spoke on BBC Radio Lancashire a few years ago. She said: “I was so nervous as I had never really spoken much about my experiences.
“Victoria was so calm that she put me at ease. She spoke with such confidence and conviction about the support group that she had created, I was so proud to be part of it.
“The support group is such a lifeline to many, and I have made some truly wonderful friends while attending.”
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As an active member of the Crohn’s and Colitis Support Group Lancashire, Kelly recently took on a charity challenge to raise funds for the group.
Kelly said: “Five years ago I was physically and emotionally black and blue as my own body tried to attack itself. I’ve had so much support from the group, my circuits buddies, friends and colleagues, and I’m now in a much better place.
“The fundraising challenge took place on Friday 13 May and involved three hours of circuits. It was hosted and supported by Bamber Bridge Leisure Centre, and three trainers – Alan Pearson, Mark Pearson and Ian Partington – gave their time for free.
“The event was more successful than I could have hoped for. We raised £649 in the bucket taking us to over £2,100 in total with online donations.
“I am so overwhelmed by everyone’s support, kindness and generosity. I couldn’t have done it without them. It was a huge team effort and I am so proud of everyone.”
To find out more, visit the Crohn’s and Colitis Support Lancashire website. To sponsor Kelly, visit JustGiving.
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