If you happen to live near the CN tower in Toronto (or other landmarks across Canada including Niagara Falls, Montreal City Hall and Science World in Vancouver ) - you may notice today they are pretty in purple. No, it's not just because purple is pretty it's actually in honour of World IBD day!
While today is recognized world-wide, I think today means a lot at home here in Canada where 1 in 150 Canadians are living with IBD (inflammatory bowel disease) and a recent headline
presented a troubling picture that here in Canada the number of children being diagnosed under the age of five is on the rise.
So what is World IBD Day all about?
It's about drawing awareness to this disease that affects so many, and yet is often regarded as an invisible disease. IBD is not always something you can see - while the inside of someone's digestive tract may be inflammed and ulcerated or they may have had portions removed via surgery, you can't see this like you can see someone with a cast after an injury. It's also not something many people are comfortable talking about as it isn't really lunch-room conversation to talk about your frequent bowel movements or the fact that you've had blood in your stool for a few weeks.
World IBD Day is also about highlight the importance of research and treatments. You might be surprised to learn that some of the medications required to treat active IBD are $$$$ and not always covered by extended insurance plans. The financial burden of living with IBD can add an extra layer of stress to those who suffer from the disease.
So what can YOU do?
Whether you suffer from IBD or (like me) you just want to be part of championing a better future for those with IBD, there are many ways you can lend your support:
1. Be a good friend/neighbour/colleague - no I don't mean rushing over in the office to your colleague who has IBD and asking him all about his poop...... that could make someone pretty uncomfortable or be TMI for you. What I do mean, is talk to people who live with this disease in a way that shows you empathise that they live with a real disease and could be going through a rough patch. Don't brush them off when they decline to partake in the office potluck or if it's a neighbour who always seems to dodge coming over for a beer on the weekend. IBD is forever, with waves of remission and flares and only those living it day to day truly "get-it" but that doesn't mean you can't be there for them - if a friend is going through a rough patch you can't make it go away, but something as small as mowing the lawn for them can be big if they are in a flare and need to be on their couch with a heating pad on their belly just to make it through the day
2. Get involved in fundraising - there are plenty of good causes out there that deserve our attention, and those that support people with IBD are definitely part of that. Just around the corner on June 4th is the annual 'Gutsy Walk' which raises funds for Crohn's and Colitis Canada. Walks are taking place all across Canada. Participate....fundraise.....or volunteer......there are lots of ways to participate
3. Get your business involved - planning your life around where the nearest washroom is can take a major toll on IBD sufferers. Crohn's and Colitis Canada and partners, strived to make this better through the creation of the: 'GoHere Washroom Access' initiative. Businesses can order a window decal that indicates a public washroom is available, with no red tape (ie/ washroom for paying customers only). IBD sufferers can also find the nearest washroom using the GoHereApp. Removing barriers such as accessing a washroom can make a big difference to those with IBD.