Samantha Irby is an American comedian, author, and blogger. As an IBD patient advocate, she wrote “I’ve Been Battling Chronic Illness For Years. Why Won’t Doctors Just Believe Me?” for Elle Magazine which is an excerpt from the book Believe Me: How Trusting Women Can Change the World by Jessica Valenti and, Jaclyn Friedman. To get an idea of her style of writing, this is pulled from that article: I am in a ridiculous amount of pain (like, childbirth pain), which is typically followed by a torrent of bloody shit (and much humiliated apologizing to whomever I happen to be hanging out with at the time). Years of this gnarly in-fighting (think Capulets and Montagues, Israel and Palestine, Biggie and Tupac) have left my intestines a veritable wasteland of scar tissue. Well said Samantha, well said. Samantha created the blog bitches gotta eat, where she writes posts about her personal life and shares the ups and downs of living with Crohn’s, Colitis. Arthritis and Depression. Formerly she co-hosted the show Guts and Glory. Samanta is married to Kirsten Jennings. She’s published three books, highly acclaimed and New York Times best selling We Are Never Meeting in Real Life, also Meaty, and New Year, Same Trash: Resolutions I Absolutely Did Not Keep (A Vintage Short). During one of her cross-country tours, she proudly shit in every airport from Boston Logan International Airport to LAX Los Angeles International. In March 2020 she will be releasing Wow, No Thank You.: Essays.
Paddy Cunningham is a Gaelic footballer from County Antrim, Northern Ireland. He went to college at University of Ulster’s Jordanstown and rose to become Antrim’s football captain. Paddy announced his battle with Crohn’s in 2011, two years after captaining Antrim to their first Ulster final in 39 years. “The way I have addressed it my whole life is to be as positive as possible. I think that has worked for me by and large so far. He states, “I don’t like to dwell on things or feel sorry for myself. I don’t think it has done me any harm. It’s about staying as positive as possible. I am very lucky, I have Claire and the kids, they give me massive support as well. So I keep going.
Laina Marshall is the wife of an American politician and physician Dr. Roger Marshall, Congressman for Kansas’ Big 1st District. As of 2020 Laina and Roger have been married for 36 years, are the parents of four children, and have two grandchildren. Laina was diagnosed with Crohn’s when she was pregnant with their second child.
Jack Leach is an English Cricketer born in Taunton England. He graduated from Somerset County Cricket Club Academy and represented Dorset County Cricket Club in the Minor Counties Cricket Championship. At the age of 14, he was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease and he continues to play internationally around the world. In 2020 fell ill on tour. His England coach Chris Silverwood said: “Jack is a great lad to have around the squad and his infectious personality will be missed. However, his focus has to be getting himself better and receiving the optimum levels of recovery and treatment, which is best served back in England. I have no doubt that he will return to full fitness in the medium-term and hopefully in time for our tour of Sri Lanka in March.”
Amy Dowden – Amy was the runner-up on British television dance contest show Strictly Come Dancing. She is a Welsh dancer who refused to let Crohn’s Disease hold her back. She was diagnosed at age 19 and was diagnosed for six weeks. Her symptoms started at age 11. Her show Strictly Amy: Crohns And Me and it will air on BBC One Wales in 2020.
Shannen Doherty – Hollywood Actress, Director, and Producer. At the age of 19, she was cast in the popular long-running series Beverly Hills 90210. In 2006 She Ranked #5 among 100 Greatest Teen Stars. She also starred in Charmed, the thriller Almost Dead, the comedy Mallrats (1995), and posed in Playboy magazine. For most of her life, she has been quiet about her Crohn’s Disease. She is allergic to wool, and chocolate. Her hobbies include horseback riding, playing video games, cooking, and playing the guitar. In March 2015 she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She is a cancer warrior, published author, animal lover, and activist.
Jacinta Parsons – Jacinta is a radio presenter who was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease at age 22. After the birth of her daughter, she realized she had to change. She resolved to stop letting fear rule, to accept her illness, and ask, “What will I do now?”. She decided to pursue her dream to get into radio and after voluntering and then paid shifts she spent two years c0-hosted the breakfast slot on ABC Radio Melbourne. She is now ABC Afternoons presenter.
Ethan Stremmel – Ethan is 8 years old and plays ice hockey, baseball, basketball and street hockey in his driveway. He was diagnosed with Crohn’s in 2016 at the age of four. In 2019 he had surgery to have 10cm removed due to a stricture. He plays Ethan says “His stomach sometimes hurts”. According to reporters Alexis Gorenstein and Maryellen Pann, Ethan knows that he will always have to listen extra closely to his body.
Seantrel Henderson – Professional football player in the National Football Foundation playing for the Buffalo Bills was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease in 2015. He missed the final games of last season, ended up dropping 20 pounds, was hospitalized and had two surgeries in the offseason. In 2016 Seantrel was suspended four games without pay for using Marijuana to mitigate his Crohn’s Disease symptoms.
Mary Ellen Pann – Mary Ellen is the Chief Meteorologist at a news station in York Pennsylvania. She serves York, Harrisburg, and Lancaster, Pennsylvania. She graduated with a Certificate of Meteorology from Mississippi State University and is a “midwest girl” originally from Dayton, Ohio. She was diagnosed in 1982 at age 17. She says sleep is very very important and being positive is key, as is listening to your body and being proactive. She loves golf, running, the gym and reading. Her favorite time of the year is the fall.
Matt Light – Diagnosed in 2004 as he was beginning his career with the New England Patriots. He went on to play for 11 seasons and win three Super Bowl championships. His symptoms originally stated when he was in college at Purdue. He tried to treat his Crohn’s Disease without drugs, and by removing offending foods, like greasy foods, but that wasn’t enough and he wound up having surgery. He also eventually opted for medicine, and retire, in-part to take care of his health in 2012 and has been on pharmaceuticals since, and ultimately believes he will get off those as well. His tip for dealing with Crohn’s Disease is to grab all the information you can. Use the Internet, use your local doctors, but really seek the people that see the patients. He advises to never settle for “This is the only way to do it, this is your only option.’’ If you’re dealing with a doctor who says, “This is the only way to go,’’ then you’re in the wrong spot. Make sure you’ve got the right team, the right people. He has undergone more than a dozen surgeries, the majority of which were Crohn’s-related. He believes positivity has helped his health.
Georgina Aurelia. Georgina is an internet celebrity and part of Netflix’s The Circle, one of the UK’s most popular reality TV series. The show mixes social media with reality TV and is considered the ultimate modern-day series with the notion of being a catfish at the center of attention. Georgina is 21 years old in 2019, is from Nottingham who now lives in London. She entered “The Circle” to spread awareness for Crohn’s. She was diagnosed in 2017 and has since needed operations including having an ileostomy stoma bag fitted. “If you have an invisible disability or if you have a bag like I did, you still have to grab life by the balls. We can live our life, we can enjoy life and Crohn’s is just not going to win or stop you having new experiences or making new friendships.” – Georgina
David Garrard – Former Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback was diagnosed in 2004. “One minute I was sitting in my lounge chair at home watching TV, the next minute I was doubled over. Not even Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis hitting me from the blind side hurt that bad. For a few minutes, I could hardly breathe. Finally, the pain went away.” I’d just sat up again when it came back, worse than before. I was sweating and shivering at the same time. “Mary, come here,” I called to my wife. “I feel like my stomach’s about to explode.” She had to help me up from the chair. The next 24 hours, the pain came and went in waves. Then it stopped. Some kind of nasty bug, I figured and put it out of my mind. David retired from the NFL in 2004, the same year he was diagnosed. He ended up having surgery to remove a section of his diseased intestines. He founded the David Garrard Foundation, promoting Crohn’s Disease, Ulcerative Colitis, Breast Cancer Awareness, education, research, and support. The foundation also promotes healthy lifestyles for kids. David says, “Remain strong. I’ve been able to become symptom-free. So I know if I could do it, you can do it”
Samantha Faiers – Samantha, diagnosed at age 23 Star of UK’s Celebrity Big Brother in January. Prior to her diagnoses, she said was quoted as saying “My immune system is down so I’m picking up every bug going. My bowels are swollen and so are my intestines. “I just couldn’t keep my food down. It was horrible. I lost all the muscle definition in my stomach.”
Taryn Mackenzie Williams – Taryn is managing director for Center For American Progress and a writer for Talk Poverty. Taryn has lived with IBD for 34 years. Her most recent article was “Eugene Scalia Ruled It’s Ok to Make Disabled Workers Soil Themselves on the Job“. Taryn who is part of the AUCD – Association Of University Centers On Disabilities. In 2014 she was also Associate Director for the White House Office of Public Engagement. From 2017 to 2019 she was Supervisory Policy Advisor, Youth Policy Team for the US Department of Labor. She’s a graduate of Harvard and Brown University.
Larry Donnell Nance Jr. – Larry, the now Los Angeles Lakers forward was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease at age 16 a sophomore in High School. Prior to his diagnoses, he was sick, undersized and constantly fatigued. He had no desire to play basketball because he was in pain and even getting off the couch was exhausting. For a long time, Nance
Jr. wondered what was wrong with him. He was bleeding internally. He couldn’t eat. His gut felt like a scientist had drugged him, laced a long stretch of barbed wire through his large intestine and was steadily dragging it forward. He couldn’t go anywhere because he needed constant access to the bathroom. He had lost 40 pounds. He didn’t know what was wrong, and — seeing the sheer volume of blood he was losing — he was terrified to find out what was happening. A day after starting Remicade, the bleeding — which had been happening for several weeks — stopped. Two days later, the pain was gone. Three days later, he was released from the hospital. A week later, he was nearly back to normal. Not everyone responds to Remicade, but thankfully Nance Jr. did, and quickly.
Anastacia -Singer and songwriter who was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease at age 13. At age 34 she was diagnosed with breast cancer, and the heart condition supraventricular tachycardia at age 39. In 2013 she announced she had undergone Double Mastectomy and is cancer free. She is the second woman to be presented with the humanitarian award at the GQ Men of the Year Awards in 2013
Mary Ann Mobley – Mary Ann Mobley was a beauty queen and crowned Miss America in 1959. She would go on to become an actor and would star in TV shows throughout the ’60s and ’70s. She even shared screen time with Elvis Presley. Although she eventually was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer at 72 and eventually died at 77, she lived a long life with chrons disease. “When I broke my arm in a fall, I got a lot of sympathies, but when you live with pain and you can’t will yourself to get up out of bed because you are so anemic and feel so miserable, that is viewed as goldbricking. When you look fairly normal, it is very hard to explain to your college professor that you are not just cutting classes.”
John F. Kennedy – past president – severe Diarrhea – UC or IBS – John had been experiencing abdominal pain at the age of 13 in 1930. Four years later he would be diagnosed with colitis. In 1940, just six years later, his back started to hurt and another four years later, 1944, he had his first back operation and was diagnosed with Addison’s disease. He would require two more back surgeries in 54 an 55 but they both failed. He was in constant pain and required chronic pain medication from 1955, through his presidency, until his death. When he had taken office as president he was taking up to 12 medications a day and getting injected in the back six times a day with Novocain and procaine just to allow him to show up. Never the less the handling of the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Bay of Pigs Invasion, the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, the establishment of the Peace Corps, developments in the Space Race, the building of the Berlin Wall, the Trade Expansion Act to lower tariffs, and the Civil Rights Movement all took place during his presidency and we still know of his actions 50 years later. His life is a testament that we can get through anything and still come out victorious and have a positive impact on the world.
Cynthia McFadden is an American television journalist who is currently the senior legal and investigative correspondent for NBC News. She has interviewed Tony Blair, President George W. Bush, the President of Pakistan, Pervez Musharraf and Hollywood hunk George Clooney. She had been experiencing pain throughout her high school years but after experiencing some extreme pain in college she visited the doctors to learn that she had Crohn’s disease. Throughout college, McFadden’s doctors tried to manage her illness with “massive doses” of cortisone. In 1979 she had 15 feet of intestine removed and is now a CCFA advocate. Today she is still achieving her dreams of interviewing the worlds most interesting people, all while maintaining a positive outlook and caring for a young son, “This is part of me, but it doesn’t define me. And accepting that I have Crohn’s, but it doesn’t run my life, is how I cope with having it.”
Mike McCready is Pearl Jams lead guitarist and has been living with Crohn’s for 25 years now but is still a rock star. He first started experiencing pain when he was 21 and soon after came the blood and mucus that followed for months. He took periodic medications that seemed to help and eventually used Remicade for years until his body developed antibodies to it. Throughout his music career, he endured his disease and found solace in his bandmates that were very receptive to his needs. He is a serious rockstar! Mike says, “When you feel better, try to exercise. Try to figure out what you are eating that may be setting this off. Try to look at the medications that are out there, the diets. Try to look for different things in your life and go inwardly and figure out what works for you. People have to realize that this is not a death sentence. You can learn things from this… there is a positive solution to this, and it has to come from within, from each individual patient.” Today Mike still lives with his disease but finds strength in positivity.
Marvin Pierce Bush – The youngest son of former President George H.W. and the former First Lady Barbara Bush, was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis in 1985.
Rolf Bernischke: Drafted by the NFL in 1977 Bernischke went on to become a place-kicker for the San Diego Chargers. But at age 23, a little known intestinal illness would change the course of his life. “I came down with what was originally diagnosed as Crohn’s disease.” Later found out Ulcerative Colitis.
Ali Carter -Professional Snooker player. Ali was born in 1979 and diagnosed width Crohn’s at age 24. He has partly controlled this IBD by limiting dairy, wheat, and gluten. He won the Welsh Open, Shangai Masters, German Masters, and World open among numerous other championships.
Sarah Machemer – Sarah is a personal trainer and wellness coach who battled her way back from Crohn’s after her diagnosis in 2002. Within six months of diagnosis, she needed a blood transfusion and reconstructive surgery. After further complications in 2009 resulted in 10 months in and out of hospitals and emergency rooms with her weight dipping to a dangerous 95lbs she realized how out of touch she had been with her own body. She decided to transform how she approached health and wellness and did. Her motto: “It’s not just a workout. It’s a lifestyle.”
Carrie Johnson – Carrie is an avid canoer who after being diagnosed with Crohn’s qualified for the Olympics three times and won gold during the Pan American Games.
Fun Fact: I was fortunate to learn that Carrie came to my Yoga Class during an IBD fundraising event a few years ago.
Pete Davidson – Pete is an American comedian who has appeared on SNL(Saturday Night Live), MTV and Jimmy Kimmel Live! At age 17 he was diagnosed with Crohn’s and has found marijuana to help tremendously and allow him to eat.
Frank Firtz – Frank is the co-host of the History Channel’s “American Pickers”. While living with Crohn’s he is also on the road over 175 days a year. His entire television crew knows about his IBD and he has been known to say “They understand it when I need a break. I mean, if I have to go, I have to GO!”
Patrick Hall – Patrick is the owner of Patrick Hall Photography and the founder of Fstoppers, an online community aimed at educating and inspiring photographers, videographers, and creative professionals. Today the website reaches over 1.5 million photographers and averages around 6 million pageviews a month. He was diagnosed at age 12 after six years of symptoms without a diagnosis. When symptoms returned he needed intensive large and small bowel surgery. Afterwards, he lived twelve symptom-free years until he noticed, following a 2019 photoshoot, that “There’s something wrong with my ass” which his surgeon found to be a complex fistula and perianal abscess.
Erron Maxey – Erron is an American professional basketball player for the Formosa Dreamers of the ASEAN Basketball League (ABL) playing in Changhua, Taiwan. He is a Crohn’s patient advocate and very outspoken on social media about mental health and IBD. He was diagnosed in 2014 but his story actually started years prior in 2009 while playing basketball in Argentina where his symptoms started undiagnosed until 5 years later. Despite all these challenges he has is a two time New Zealand National Basketball League champion, was award the best 6th man award in the ANBL, made the QBL All-League Team, and was a #LUB All-Star.
Brennan Metzger – Brennan is an outfielder for the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks, a professional baseball team based in Fargo, North Dakota. The RedHawks are a member of the American Association of Independent Professional Baseball, which is not affiliated with Major League Baseball. Brennan has undergone six surgeries and the removal of his colon at Scripps La Jolla related to Crohn’s Disease. Prior to playing for the RedHawks Brennan played for Mission Hills High in San Marcos California and Long Beach State. He was originally diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis, lost 50 pounds and, like myself, spent over a month in the hospital. From using a walker to now playing for the RedHawks he is an inspiration for many. In a recent interview with InForum he said “Thinking back on it now, I’m grateful to be here,” “I feel like I cheated death.”. “It makes appreciate a lot of the smaller things in life.” Every eight weeks, Metzger has to get three-hour infusions of medication for the disease. He has an infusion scheduled later this week at a Fargo hospital. “I feel just as good as I ever did,” Metzger said. “I have days where I feel like someone ran me over with a truck. I’ve gotten used to dealing with it all. I grind. I grind through it.” Previously Brennan was playing in the San Francisco Giants organization.
Jeff Hordley – Jeff is an English actor most notable for playing Cain Dingle in the British long-running soap opera Emmerdale. He was diagnosed with Crohn’s in 1996 at age 26 after experiencing symptoms for at least age 20. He is married to his college sweetheart and British Actress Zoe Henry and has two children, Violet and Stan. His mother, Linda was a nurse and also had Crohn’s.
Note: Originally written in 2017, this article has been revised and updated for accuracy and thoroughness.