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Happy World IBD Day!

Tomorrow is World IBD Day! This is my first time celebrating (never knew it existed until a few weeks ago!) and I'm excited to be a part of it. I was first turned on to it by a fellow IBDer I "met" on Twitter named Lorna (for more information, check out her blog here). Lorna, along with several other Twitter friends banded together to create an awareness campaign called #GetYourBellyOut (Good job, Colitis and Me. Also a good blog you should totally check into.). If you'd like to read the full story about how the campaign got started, click here and read Sahara's story. There are also many others within the campaign, but these three are the first ones I had contact with. Every member of that team is AWESOME and vastly important to me (Gem, et al).

How did I meet this awesome group of ladies, you may ask? It all started with my resolve to not let Ulcerative Colitis defeat me. I was diagnosed with UC on February 16 of 2011. To read that story, you can go here, here or here (read the April 2014 issue, I'm Amber E.). For a more humorous spin on my diagnosis story, see parts one and two of my comic (part 3 coming soon!). I've had a few minor flares here and there and then last year began the long, rocky road to the biggest flareup of my life. I tried so many different things to get it under control to no avail. I began to get discouraged and bitter. That's when I decided to change my attitude and use my pain to help others. I won't bore you with all the details because you can read about it here.

I created a Facebook Page, a Twitter Page and a YouTube channel. Upon doing this, I found an overwhelmingly amazing community of people who suffer from Crohn's Disease and Ulcerative Colitis who face the daily challenges that I do. I cannot tell you what this has meant to me. The friendships I've made, the advice I've received and the encouragement that I've found. Support, encouragement and a positive attitude are absolutely key in keeping your sanity and overcoming the hardships in life. Helping others has helped me to keep fighting.

About two weeks after I started Colitis Ninja, my doctor gave me the bad news: It was time for surgery. There was nothing else he could do for me. It has been hard. It has been frustrating. It has been scary, but because of Jesus, the girls from #GetYourBellyOut, my family, my amazing husband (Dave), my friends and so many others in the social media realm, I have mustered the strength to press on and keep fighting. 

The #GetYourBellyOut campaign was helpful in that it showed very real photos of those who have had to have surgery because of IBD. It showed me that I was not alone. It showed me that people DO survive. It made me more confident. It made me realize that come what may, I would come through this difficult time in my life.

If you or someone you love are struggling because of an inflammatory bowel disease or some other chronic disease, please know that you are NOT alone. There are SO many support groups out there. I am here as well and I will continue to be here. If you need to vent, feel free to shoot me an email. If you have any questions, again, feel free to email me. I am by no means an expert, but I want you to know that I am here for you. You are in my prayers every day and I want to help you in any way that I am able. You do not have to struggle in silence and darkness. 

Please consider helping us spread the word by sharing our blogs, photos, using the hashtag #GetYourBellyOut on Twitter and "liking" us on Facebook. Together we can make a difference.

 And now I leave you with some other awesome, inspiring blogs, vlogs and websites that have helped me during some of my darkest days. I hope they do the same for you. God bless!

Sara Ringer's YouTube Channel
Sara Ringer's Blog/Website
Danielle Walker's Story
Thaila Sky's YouTube Channel
I Have UC (Adam's Website)
GI J's - No Guts, No Glory
The Great Bowel Movement
Youth Rally, Inc.
Kelly on the Run
Flareup Hope
Ostomism Not Pessimism
UC Me With Hope (Kristin's Story)
Companion Magazine for IBD

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