Advice for the Newly Diagnosed from 2020 AbbVie IBD Scholarship Recipients

Abbvie Scholarship poster
A data scientist, a psychology major, a stage manager for a high school production of Mamma Mia!, and an aspiring gastroenterologist are just some of the outstanding students who have headed back to class this fall with up to $5,000 for their tuition, thanks to the AbbVie IBD Scholarship program

Learn more about how Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis has shaped this year's scholarship recipients and take a peek below to read the advice taken from their own journey that they are eager to share with those who are newly diagnosed.

Ann Weber l Medicine l University of Manitoba
“You are absolutely stronger than the disease. Treatment can take time, so while you’re getting adjusted, reach out to a support group, because hearing how others cope with similar symptoms or how they have achieved remission can give you strength.”

Carlie Thompson l Biology and French Language l Concordia University
“You don't have to be and think positive all the time. These diseases are horrible, debilitating, painful and embarrassing, it's okay and helpful to be upset and grieve for the loss of your health.”

David Pugh l Psychology l York University
“Do not be afraid to advocate for yourself. There are fantastic resources and support out there for people and particularly students with IBD! (Register with your school’s accessibility centre!)”

Dennis Drewnik l Cellular, Molecular and Developmental Biology l University of Manitoba
“It gets better! The pain, discomfort and stigma may seem unbearable now or at times, but there are always greener pastures. Life goes up and down in general, so remember, things are changing now, but these changes may be a blessing in disguise.”

Isabelle Rochette l Criminology, Co-Direction in Information in Technologies and Cybersecurity l Université de Montréal
“It gets better, promise!”

Kate Latos l Law l University of Alberta
“Taking time to become a part of the IBD community will not only improve your experience but will also give you examples of some great people who are thriving and living fantastic lives.  Now that you know why you are sick, life will get better and even on the hard days, you are on your way to something great. You never know what will bloom after the storm.”

Lisa MacNeil l Education in Counselling l Acadia University
“It gets better and you’re not alone.”

Simona Perrotti l Molecular Biology and Genetics l McMaster University
“My advice is to accept that you will have some hard days and that at times it may be frustrating. It is okay to let yourself feel this way!  I believe that it teaches you to be resilient and helps you view your diagnosis as a mentor in life rather than a bully.”

Sophie LeBlanc l Kinesiology l University of New Brunswick
“Mindset is everything! Your disease does not have to limit you unless you let it.”

Vanessa Reali l Nursing, Health Systems Leadership Administration l University of Toronto
“This diagnosis is life changing. Although you may not always feel in control of your health, you can choose to be in control of your perspective. There will always be a community supporting you.”
We hope the advice shared by these ambitious and resilient students making a difference in their own communities while striving towards fulfilling their goals inspires you to continue working towards bringing your own goals to fruition no matter the challenges that you may face.

  • Canada has among the highest incidence rates of Crohn's and colitis in the world.
  • 1 in 140 Canadians lives with Crohn’s or colitis.
  • Families new to Canada are developing these diseases for the first time.
  • Incidence of Crohn’s in Canadian kids under 10 has doubled since 1995.
  • People are most commonly diagnosed before age 30.

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