For one Bunbury man this September holds special significance after he was diagnosed with Crohns in 2013.
Crohn’s and Colitis Australia has launched its first ever digital fundraising campaign – the Live Fearless challenge – to encourage people to walk or run 150 kilometres in September.
Crohn’s and Colitis Australia chief executive Leanne Raven said it was the largest ever national communication campaign in an effort to engage more people to raise awareness and vital funds in support of people living with the diseases.
One in 250 Australians live with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, collectively known as inflammatory bowel disease.
The diseases are most commonly diagnosed in young people who have no choice but to self-manage throughout their lives and yet, there is no cure.
Shane Maher was diagnosed with Crohns at the age of 26, just four weeks before the birth of his first baby, suffering with a perforated bowel.
“I lost my colon and part of my small intestine and lived with a stoma bag for three months,” he said.
“I was lucky to have had an exceptional surgeon who saved just enough to allow me to later have further surgery for a reconnection.
“It took another three years to get some control of my condition, however Crohns remains an ever-present unwelcome visitor in my body.”
Mr Maher said nausea, gut and joint pain had become part of his every day life but the fatigue from the acute anaemia caused by the internal bleeding was the hardest for him to manage.
“Crohns isn’t contagious, you can’t ‘catch’ it and it’s still unknown why the immune system turns on itself, that’s why research is so vital,” he said.
“I’m very grateful for the research that continues to try and find a cure for Crohns and ulcerative colitis and for the current treatments now available, and hope that one day, no-one will have their lives ruled or shortened by this awful disease.
“My family and I are completing the Live Fearless Challenge in September to help raise awareness for Crohns and Colitis – with first hand experience, I know just how much inflammatory bowel disease can impact lives.
“Five kilometres a day is more than my body will allow most days, but as a team with my wife and kids, we will combine do this together.”
The Live Fearless challenge inspires people living with inflammatory bowel disease, their family and friends and the general community to unite as one to take on a physical challenge whilst raising awareness and funds to support the growing inflammatory bowel community. For more information visit livefearlesschallenge.com.au/fundraisers/shanemaher.