My Crohns story
Hope, strength, courage. Three small words with such impactful meaning. Hope—a feeling of trust; Strength—the quality or state of being strong; Courage—the ability to do something that frightens one. My name is Jessica Webber, and this is my journey to find the hope, strength, and courage within myself through some of the most challenging years of my life. My journey began back in 2006, when I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. I remember that hospital stay like it was yesterday—being told I had a disease for which there was no cure. I was 12 years old, athletic, a social butterfly, and had never been sick before. Little did I know, my life was about to change forever. Drastic weight loss, severe abdominal pain, and significantly low hemoglobin were common indicators of Crohn’s disease that I’d soon become all too familiar with; they were the symptoms that started it all, marking a turning point in my life. Hard as it was, in the end, dealing with those symptoms made me who I am today.
Holding onto hope
Inflammatory bowel disease presents differently from person to person, being characterized as mild, moderate, severe, or falling somewhere in between. Unfortunately, my case resides on the severe end of the spectrum. Growing up, this meant daily oral medications, extended hospital stays, countless needle and IV sticks, multiple infusions of Remicade and shots of Humira, 9 surgeries—and a permanent ileostomy bag. Throughout all of this, I’ve held onto hope that I can live a fairly normal life with this disease, encouraged by my family and friends, as well as by my doctors and nurses at CHOP, and now Penn. I'm now happily married, in the best shape of my life, and helping others every day live their best life. I've learned my journey is special and its mine, I own it, and I'm so proud of it.