Grady Stewart

IBD Community Advocate Grady StewartBonjour! Je m’appelle Grady. I hail from the great, historic, and colorful city of New Orleans. Sadly, I didn’t grow up with a pet alligator and I didn’t have the opportunity to ride said alligator to school. If I had, I would have named him something really Cajun like Gumbeaux.

In late 2015, during my freshman year at LSU, I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis at the age of 18. My diagnosis changed my life significantly. Instead of partying at college ragers, I raged at being sick under the covers of my bed. My life became a nightmarish roller coaster of pills, pain, and pressure.

At first, it was easy to feel alone and trapped. I blamed life for not giving me, at the very least, a barf bag. Simply put, I could only see steep drop and dips ahead of me. I lost 20 pounds, became anemic, and watched myself dissolve.

Then, one day, I looked up. I saw that I didn’t have to be alone anymore. I started to reach out to my community and I wasn’t alone. Quickly, I embraced the ride. I accepted the twists, and turns as part of my journey. I started making the most of every moment. I overcame my needle phobia, and fought back.

Today, I know that my Ulcerative Colitis, cannot stop me from achieving great things. I am a member of the National Council of College Leaders for the Crohns and Colitis Foundation. I am a member of Improve Care Now’s Patient Advisory Committee. I’ve gone hanggliding in the French Alps, unicycled un Mardi Gras Parades, and juggled at music festivals. Most importantly, I’ve learned to share my story and advocate for the IBD community. I make the most of my roller coaster ride, and I know that I’ll never give up or quit fighting.

Click here to read all of Grady’s articles on InflammatoryBowelDisease.net.