Meet Andrea Hopkins. She Lives with ulcerative colitis.
“When you’re 21 and at university, you don’t think anything of being tired or having to go to the bathroom a lot,” says Andrea Hopkins. University life generally involves poor diet, late nights, irregular sleep patterns and stresses. “And when you’re that young, you think you’re invincible.”
But Andrea wasn’t invincible. A couple of invasive tests confirmed she had ulcerative proctitis, a mild form of ulcerative colitis, which affects the colon, including the rectum and anus, and only invades the inner lining of the bowel tissue. The disease had attacked 10 centimetres of her rectum: “I was put on medication and I was on my way.”
But in little over a year, shortly after her mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer, Andrea’s mild form became aggressive, attacking her entire large colon within the space of three months and landing her in hospital for six weeks. Despite frontline medications, Andrea eventually had her colon removed and she was fitted with an ostomy bag — “super sexy when you’re 25 and single.”
The good news is, two years later, Andrea received reversal surgery, which involves using the small intestine to make an internal pouch. “I’m relatively med-free at the moment, and can do everything that a normal person can, as long as I take care of myself,” she says.
Andrea accepts her illness, thanks to the resources made available by Crohn’s and Colitis Canada, one of 16 national health charities working under the HealthPartners umbrella to transform the health of Canadians. Resources included having access to top doctors in the field as well as peer-to-peer support — which “helped me come to terms with having this disease.”
“My story isn’t the worst, the most horrific or the most difficult to deal with on a day-to-day basis,” she says. Grateful for the health she has, Andrea says she is “living proof that donating to HealthPartners works.”
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