My name is Renee and I’ve lived with Crohn’s disease for 24 years. As much as I would like to admit, I hid from that label for most of my life. Part of it was because I didn’t want to be labeled sick and the other part was It was hard to actually see my sickness. I did the same things, I ate the same foods, but sometimes I would also get really sick and not be able to get out of bed. Crohns can often hide itself in our lives and cause us to spend more time explaining what’s going on, all the while looking just like everyone else. This journey led me to a major surgery that not only saved my life, but I believe changed my purpose. I now have an ileostomy and have been given an opportunity to live a life with a better outcome.
I am determined to change the stigma that surrounds Crohn's and people with ostomies. I am not old, I am not dying; in fact, I am the complete opposite. That is why I chose to wear a white aware necklace. In the photo, you would never know my journey. This necklace represents how hidden some disabilities can be and how difficult it can be to have to explain something you can’t see. So yes, I wear this not because I want to be labeled different; I wear this because I want you to ask me about my story.