Danielle Austin Completes Another 63 km Run
"Some days are better, some days are worse. Look for the blessing instead of the curse. Be positive, stay strong and get enough rest. You can't do it all, but you can do your best." - Unknown.
This is Danielle Austin’s motivational quote that has helped her push through the tough times; from the day of her diagnosis to successfully completing 63 kilometer runs to fundraise for IBD – twice.
In November of 2015, Danielle was diagnosed with severe Crohn’s disease during her first semester nursing school. She was confused, shocked and devastated at the notion of why a once very healthy athlete could be diagnosed with a chronic illness.
The following two weeks after her diagnosis, her symptoms became unbearable. Danielle was up more than ten times a night and had to attend school in pain and exhausted on a daily basis. To add to her already tough daily routine, Danielle’s treatment plan included a medication she would have to learn to self-inject. Although symptoms eased initially, they never went away. Despite not feeling well every day, she did her best not to let it affect school or interfere with her athletics.
However, her disease had taken a huge toll on her body. With the medications and the nature of the disease, her weight dropped and she became short of breath during shifts on the soccer field and had to be subbed off more frequently than her teammates.
In September of 2016, she started a new medication and within three days of her first infusion, her symptoms started to subside. Over the following weeks, she continued to gain strength and she was about to play hockey again after having to sit out for three years.
Danielle is currently in remission and has been since 2016 when she started her second medication. She was inspired to pursue a career in nursing because she “loves caring for people and now understands it from both perspectives.” As a nurse, she is able to see things through multiple lenses – first as a patient and now as a professional.
Since 2016, Danielle has completed two 63 kilometer runs. First in 2018, and again in September of 2021. Her 2021 run followed the same route as the one in 2018 but in reverse, starting in London and finishing in Grand Bend. She chose her run from London to Grand Bend as her way to fundraise because she absolutely loves running and feels empowered. Running, for Danielle, is “something I knew I could do. I found that when I was running my body was able to shut down and I didn't have to worry about my symptoms. Running was my "out" and allowed me to feel strong again.”
When asked for advice she’d share with someone who is newly diagnosed with Crohn's disease, she says, “don’t feel ashamed or embarrassed. It's not a disease that people are very open about discussing with others as the symptoms are not very nice. However, it is such a common disease that affects so many people.”
Danielle reminds us that support from friends and family is key. Crohn’s and colitis are lifelong diseases, but always remember, Crohn’s and Colitis Canada, and the IBD community are your teammates, and we’re here to support and uplift you every step of the way.