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Famous people living with IBD

Living with a chronic disease such as IBD is not easy. Many patients experience good days between bouts of bad days that may be severe enough to require a hospital stay. But every one can overcome it, as these famous people here have shown. Hopefully this will inspire you. If you know of any other famous people with CD or colitis please write to: info@crohn-colitis.hu

D. Eisenhower

(1890-1969) the 34th President of the United States. On June 8, 1956 Eisenhower developed vague, ill-defined discomfort in the lower abdomen at 12:30 am. His physician arrived at the White House 30 minutes later and found moderate distention and tympany, but no particular point of abdominal tenderness. The President slept fitfully for the next few hours. Tap water enemas in the morning gave no relief. The pain became colicky and centered on the umbilicus and right lower quadrant. Without surgery, Eisenhower's bowel obstruction could easily have killed him. Even so, the decision to operate was contentious. Eisenhower had had a serious heart attack just nine months earlier, and this made surgery risky. As you might expect, it is difficult to decide to operate on the President of the United States when he might not survive the operation. At operation, the terminal 30 to 40 cm of the ileum had the typical appearance of chronic "dry" Crohn's Disease. An ileotransverse colostomy was performed, bypassing the obstruction. The post-operative course was smooth as well. He began conducting official business on the fifth post-operative day.

Rolf Benirschke

was taken as the second-to-last pick in the 1977 NFL draft, few people could have imagined the football career that would unfold. He became the placekicker for the San Diego Chargers for the next 10 years and set 16 team records before retiring as the third-most accurate kicker in NFL history. But what makes Rolf's career so remarkable is that he played while battling ulcerative colitis and after undergoing ostomy surgery midway through his third season. In 1979 he collapsed on the team plane on a flight home and required emergency surgery that removed most of his large intestine and left him wearing two ostomy appliances. As he wrote in his autobiography, Alive & Kicking (1996), Rolf found strength in his faith, the love of family, friends, and teammates, and the support of his doctors and nurses. Rolf amazingly returned to professional football the following season healthier and stronger than ever. Benirschke received such honors as "Comeback Player of the Year," the Philadelphia Sportswriters Association's "Most Courageous Athlete," the NFL Players Association's "Hero of the Year" and the NFL "Justice Byron 'Whizzer' White Award."

Shayne Corson

was first diagnosed with ulcerative colitis when he was 15. There have been flare-ups before in his 15-year NHL career. In ulcerative colitis, victims are unable to keep food in their bodies, leaving them drained of energy. "You have no energy and everything you eat goes right through you," he said. "None of the nutrients in the food gets to you, so you're tired all the time." He said he first felt the latest bout coming on during the summer, and again during training camp, but played through it while doctors attempted to determine how serious it was. Corson played in Montreal's season-opening loss to Toronto on Oct. 2 and accompanied the team on a trip to Edmonton, but had to fly home before the game when he began passing blood. He was relieved to find it could be treated with medication. If his colon and large intestine were inflamed, he might have had to have them taken out.

Shayne Corson

was picked 188th in the 1987 National Hockey League draft. In the 1998-99 season, he scored 53 assists, the six highest number of assists in the league. He placed seventh in the league for goals and points, with 40 and 93, respectively. He was acquired as a free agent by the Rangers in July, 1999. At 5 foot 6 inches tall, he has become a role model for hockey players under 6 feet tall (considered to be the standard size for the NHL). Theo is known for his fiestiness on the ice, and his determination. Diagnosed with Crohn's Disease in 1996, he has been determined not to let the disease rule his life. Theo Fleury said: "When you live in a hotel and travel from place to place keeping a close eye on what you eat and always remembering to take your medication is a hard task. But Crohn's Disease is something that I have come to terms with and have adjusted my lifestyle accordingly."

Shayne Corson

is an accomplished professional golfer who has won 11 PGA tour events, 10 senior tour events, and 8 super senior (for golfers 60 and older) competitions. He is also the father of Brent Geiberger, a PGA Tour pro. Al started the Mr. 59 tournament for charity, with proceeds going to Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America and Desert Junior Golf's Matthew Geiberger Scholarship Fund. The tournament is named for his famous round of 13-under 59 in the 1977 Danny Thomas Memphis Classic. It was the first sub-60 round in PGA history. Due to Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Al had surgery to remove his colon in 1980, and now has an ileostomy. He credits Rolf Benirschke as an inspiration to him in overcoming his illness. "I saw him and said 'If he can go play football, then I can play golf". "You have to remember that 15 years ago if you had something like this, no one talked about it," Geiberger said. "Now people are familiar with intestinal diseases and what can happen for them."

Shayne Corson

lead guitarist of Pearl Jam, diagnosed with Crohn's Disease at age 21. From the very beginning, Pearl Jam has been a socially conscious band, but perhaps nothing they've done as a whole will make as much of a difference as what Mike did earlier this year. The spotlight isn't an easy place to keep a secret, but for nearly half his life, Mike McCready, lead guitarist for one of the biggest rock bands in America, did just that. "It was something I was ashamed of for many years," he said - "something" so painful and so unpredictable, it sometimes forced the Pearl Jam guitarist to abandon the stage mid-song to find the one place where he could deal with his awful secret - the bathroom. "I probably didn't want anybody to know about it," he said. Not anymore. Not after a Seattle luncheon where the rock star revealed his secret to the world. "My name's Mike McCready and I suffer from Crohn's disease," he said on stage, but this time without a guitar to hide behind. Mike told the crowd about his 20-year battle with a chronic disease that has no cure, that causes extreme abdominal pain and attacks of diarrhea, that can force patients to go to the bathroom up to 20 times a day. "It could hit you at anytime" said Mike. He says there a million other Crohn's sufferers out there and most get diagnosed at the most difficult time in their lives - the teenage years. "To have Crohn's and have to deal with that on top of being a teenager and growing up, that's a loaded deck," he said. "Many patients initially think they have something that will go away and they actually get used to the symptoms". To raise awareness, the Northwest chapter of the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation sponsors an annual "You Gotta Have Guts" run in Sandpoint Magnuson Park. Mike was there running 9-minute miles. So was his dad. "He's a terrific role model for a lot of people including his parents, so that's why I'm out here supporting him," said Roy McCready. For more than 10 years, Mike has been a guitar hero to a generation of rock fans. Now that his old secret is out, he's become a hero even to people who may never hear him play.

Beth Orton

british singer, songwriter. Born in Norfolk in 1970. She was diangosed with Crohn's Disease at age of 17. "The doctors were telling me that my lifestyle wasn't conducive to my health and that I should consider something else. I sat there in a hospital bed and the doctors were telling me that maybe I couldn't do it. I was just like, 'I don't know. If I can't do this I don't want to do anything." The disease has led to the cancellation of a low-key Irish tour in 1999 and all other promotional activities. A spokesperson for Orton's record company explained: "She'd just come off tour and went to hospital for one of her regular check-ups. She thought she was fine but the doctors immediately put her back on a strict diet and ordered her to take two months off. She's just worn out really. She has Crohn's Disease and it never goes away. I don't want to make it sound as though she's whining and always ill because she's not. She's been working working hard for two years but has this thing that rears from time to time and forces her to go on a diet that amounts to pretty much just rice." "I have a sense of humour that people aren't getting. There's humour if you want to take it that way. I've been so clouded in my health and not-health and this and that and it's come out somehow. Maybe people aren't used to hearing the truth. I've noticed that. Sometimes there's a time and a place to say it and I think that songs are the place to talk about shit."

Marvin Bush

son of former president George W. Bush was born in 1956 in the oil boomtown of Midland. Marvin worked primarily in mergers and acquisitions and investment management. In 1985, Bush's life changed forever. At odd times, he found himself doubled over in pain; blood began appearing in the toilet. It turned out to be ulcerative colitis. Almost a quarter of a million Americans suffer from the disease, and for 25 percent of them, the only remedy is major surgery. Bush was part of that 25 percent. Telling his mother he would be home the next day, Bush checked into Georgetown University Hospital and didn't emerge for five weeks. His entire large intestine was removed, and he now wears an external ostomy pouch, which collects waste and fits under his trousers. In 1991, the CCFA named Marvin Bush as its spokesman, hoping he could use his natural speaking ability and his family's public profile to raise awareness of the disease and, perhaps more important, give it a public face. "Walking around with a pouch around your waist is not an easy thing to talk about," says Marvin. "And yet, when you think about this insidious disease that really robs a lot of people of their pride, it really was not that challenging to visit hospitals or see kids or call as many people as I can. In a way, it's been part of the healing process for me."

Kevin Dineen

was born in 1963. He was drafted to the Hartford Whalers in 1982 as the 56th selection. In the 1994-95 season he was a finalist for the Masterson Trophy. Kevin served as captain of the Philadelphia Flyers in 1993-94, the Hartford Whalers in 1996-97, and the Carolina Hurricanes in 1997-98. He was diagnosed in 1987 with Crohn's Disease. Dineen has experienced five "flare-ups" of the disease in the past 13 years. Twice he's been admitted to hospital; four years ago, he spent 10 days in a sick bed because of Crohn's. He said the disease affects those suffering from it in different ways, but it is never easy to handle, and always painful. "When I have it, it's not minor," he said. "It knocks me right down. I lose a lot of weight, and I've had very serious cases of it. I recognize the symptoms (cramps, diarrhea, severe pain) when they come and I get on my medicine. It's major, heavy doses. It puts a halt to the Crohn's, but it affects me a lot of other ways ... It's a disease and it's always going to be with you." Dineen will participate in a golf tournament fund-raiser for Crohn's and colitis this summer in Ottawa.

Shayne Corson

The Jacksonville Jaguars quaterback was born in 1978. Garrard, a third-year veteran who played college ball at East Carolina, started feeling sick in January 2004. After a battery of tests, he was diagnosed with Crohn's on March 23. He has since lost about 10 pounds. Last week, medicine he had been taking to combat the illness lost effectiveness and he had be hospitalized. He opted against surgery to alleviate the blockage and instead went on a relatively new medicine, Remicade, that removes a type of protein from the bloodstream that can cause the inflammation. Doctors have assured Garrard that playing football won't put him at any risk because of the disease. "It's going to do whatever it's going to do on its own," Garrard said. "Football isn't going to bring it back or keep it away." Garrard conceded he was scared before he knew what was wrong. Now, however, he's looking at the bright side: He's eating better, has lost weight and is happy because the illness isn't as serious as it could have been. "It's bigger than football," he said. "It's just how I'm going to be from now on."

Shayne Corson

is known to millions as the flamboyantly dressed teacher who coached the Fame Academy students' singing voices. But behind her smiles and words of encouragement, the 38-year-old has a debilitating disease. For the last 20 years, she has battled against Crohn's disease - a potentially life-threatening bowel condition that has seen her undergo regular operations, left her unable to eat for weeks and means she is in almost constant pain. Despite all this she remains philisophical: "Having Crohn's has made me a more thoughtful and considerate person, and I am grateful for every day when I'm not in too much pain." Carrie is married to David Grant, 47, who is also a singing coach on Fame Academy. The couple have two children, Olivia, eight, and Talia, one. "My Crohn's improved with each pregnancy," Carrie says, "but no one knows why - I was even able to eat chocolate for the first time in years, which was wonderful!" "I've since managed my Crohn's by diet and painkillers. I still have colonoscopies and, when I'm in really bad pain, revert to my liquid diet for weeks on end." Carrie laughs at the idea that David Blaine is going without food for 44 days: "At the time of Fame Academy, my bowel condition flared up and I had to survive on four pints of a special vitamin drink a day. I didn't eat for 90 days!"

Shayne Corson

is the singer for New York hardcore band Glassjaw. He is an underground icon. Their debut Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Silence, was fullfilled with doses of part crunch and part melody. Part of the angst behind their album may be due to the fact that Palumbo suffers from Crohn's Disease, a genetic, intestinal disorder that so far has no cure. "A big part of what the record is about is about being happy with the body that God has given me," Palumbo says. "I'm getting better. It's a matter of not knowing my place in the world and not knowing my place in my body. I'm not exactly the most positive person in the world, but it's important for me to share this experience with people," the frontman believes. "I know what I wish I could have heard when I was diagnosed with this incredibly serious disease. I know what it feels like to be alone in a hospital room. I'm just a f**kin' 20 year old dork, but if I can make people feel less alone, that's important." The band have been forced to cancel their 2003 European tour due to Daryl Palumbo being taken ill.


is a rare talent. She is a songwriter, a singer and a dancer. Born in Chicago, raised in New York City, Anastacia came from an entertainment oriented family: her father was a singer, her mother an actress in musical theater on Broadway. She was diagnosed with Crohn's disease at age 13. "I have a big scar on my stomach and would never hide it" - Anastacia said. "For those with Crohn's, holding in our emotions fuels the symptoms. What is seen as a curse for some, is a gift for me, because it has helped me to discover who I really am as a person. The disease has given me a clear window to my own emotions, which causes me to live each moment and to understand exactly how I'm behaving in a particular situation. Crohn's can be debilitating, but I am lucky to be in the two to three per cent of sufferers who are relatively healthy. I think I got it so young that I incorporated it into my way of living, enabling me to become stronger."

Chris Conley

singer for Saves The Day. "I've known Crohn's Disease since I was 15 or 16. For different people it's worse. I've talked to a lot of people who have been hospitalized from it a number of times. I've never been in the hospital because of it. I've never been to the point where i can't eat or control my body, but i do know people it gets that bad for. For me, the whole time we've been touring i've had it and it goes through waves. Sometimes it's really bad, but on this tour it's been fine the entire time. Knock on wood. (laughs). But there have been so many times - especially in the van - where it's been so hard to make it to the rest stop and get to the hotel and make it to the hotel running down the hall with shit streaming down my legs, running to the hotel room. It's humbling. I can talk about it because it stopped being embarrassing when i started shitting my pants in front of people. There's nothing you can do about it, so i'll try and find it funny. And it is funny. Well, it's funny and not funny. You have to take it with a grain of salt, because if i really think about it, it's like, "Oh god, my body can't really digest things. Am I going to die?" I don't want to think about it, so i just try to make light of it. It's gotten to the point where it's very intrusive, but i try to get through it. I always work on my diet to get through it. That's why i don't eat shit, any of the crap food there is around. My body's really sensitive.

Shannen Doherty

actress. In 1999 she has revealed to Starmagazine, that she's been secretly battling an agonizing stomach ailment for years. "I have Crohn's disease," she confides. And she says the condition, marked by a chronic inflammation of the intestine, can be quite embarrassing. People with the disease may experience abdominal pain, diarrhea and low-grade fever. "It can kind of mess with you," explains Doherty, who divorced first husband Ashley Hamilton in 1994 and dates director Rob Weiss. "There's nothing sexy about women saying: "I've got to go to the bathroom right now." The disease occurs in about 150 out of 100,000 people in the United States. Symptoms may be mild to severe and interrupt normal digestion and absorption of foods. Most sufferers take medication or have surgery. No cure. Unfortunately, Crohn's isn't the former Beverly Hills 90210 wild child's only health woe. An avid rider, Doherty says she's been thrown so many times by her horses that she now suffers from a painful back condition. "I'm supposed to wear a brace 24 hours a day," she laments.

Shayne Corson

a former NFL player. Chris was first diagnosed with ulcerative colitis in September of 1995. Unfortunately, his case turned out to be uncommonly severe, and doctors subsequently found that Chris's colon was perforated in addition to being inflamed. Surgery-with all its potential complications-was actually the best option, so his colon was removed in July of 1999. The first weeks of recovery were truly debilitating. Chris was so weak following the operation that he could barely stand up straight. Things would get even more difficult. In August of 1999, he faced the prospect of additional surgery to regain normal gastrointestinal function. After all he came back to play one more year for the Arizona Cardinals: "I don't plan on coming back and playing the way I did before," he said prior to the 2000 season. "I will come back playing better. Since his operation, Chris has become a national spokesman for the Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America.

Shayne Corson

former President John F. Kennedy was in far greater pain and taking many more medications during his presidency than previously known. Kennedy was sick from age 13 on. In 1930, when he was 13, he developed abdominal pain. By 1934 he was sent to the Mayo Clinic where they diagnosed colitis or it was called colitis. By 1940 his back started hurting him, by 1944 he had his first back operation, by 1947 he was officially diagnosed as having Addison's Disease. And he was basically sick from then on through the rest of his life. He had two back operations, in '54 and '55, which failed. And he needed chronic pain medication from '55 through his White House years, until he died in Dallas. He was never healthy. I mean, the image you get of vigor and progressive health wasn't true. He was playing through pain most of the presidency. By the time he was president, he was on ten, 12 medications a day. And on top of that he was getting injected sometimes six times a day, six places on his back, by the White House physician, with Novocain, Procaine, just to enable him to face the day. He had compression fractures in his low back, he had osteoporosis. He had a lot of surgery. In 1954, they put a plate in because the pain was so bad he needed, or they felt he needed to have his spine stabilized. It got infected in '55, they took the plate out. By the late '50s there were periods had he couldn't put his own shoes on because he couldn't bend forward.

Shayne Corson

He has won a gold medal at each of the five past Olympic Games: in the coxed four in 1984, the coxless pair with Andy Holmes in 1988 and the coxless pair with Matthew Pinsent in 1992 and 1996, and finally in the coxless four at Sydney, where his fifth gold fulfilled his ambition of being able to "make the Olympic rings in gold medals". He has also, almost as an afterthought, won nine gold medals in world championships and three in Commonwealth Games. Rowing is a particularly torturous sport. One might imagine that superfit athletes feel on top of the world, but here is Redgrave describing the effects of the training regime he has followed for 49 weeks a year over the past 19 years: "I go round feeling knackered all the time. I have no energy and I'm fighting the margins of being ill and not being ill. I go to dinners and fall asleep. I'm pushing back the boundaries all the time, and training so hard takes a toll on the body. If you feel fit and strong then there's something wrong. You're not training hard enough." Not only does he suffer from ulcerative colitis, but also diabetes. It just goes to show that if you have the determination there are no limits. He has immersed himself in charity work since setting up The Sir Steve Redgrave Charitable Trust in 2001, and explained how he has been compelled to help children across the UK.

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