Jessica Caron was a carefree college student on spring break when she first noticed what would later be revealed as the symptoms of Crohn’s disease.
Just 20 years old and heading off to a relaxing week in the sun with friends on Grand Bahama Island, the symptoms hit her out of the blue: nausea, stomachaches, intense vomiting.
The unpleasant reality of living with Crohn’s suddenly became, as Caron calls it, “the new normal.”
On her popular blog, Chronically Jess, which chronicles her experiences with the disease, Caron writes that she was suddenly “thrown into chronic illness with force,” going from life as usual one day to suddenly dealing with the stigmas of Crohn’s right away.
She describes it as a “loss of control, fear of my own body, embarrassment, pain, sadness, anxiety, hiding the truth of my experience, and the guilt of how MY illness could quickly ruin things for everyone around me.”
She received a formal diagnosis at 21.
Flash forward nearly a decade later, and Caron is now a mother of two, sharing her experiences living with Crohn’s with a wide audience through speaking engagements and her writing.
She’s working with the American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) as a patient advocate for its new IBD Parenthood Project, an online resource that tries to dispel misconceptions and answer questions that women living with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) — and their healthcare providers — might have while juggling family planning, pregnancy, and managing a condition like Crohn’s.
“It’s incredibly important that women don’t feel they have to go through this alone.
There are tools out there to reference, and women should talk to their doctor about this as early and often as they can,” Caron told Healthline.
“It’s great that there is this resource out there for women.”