Last week it was revealed that TOWIE star and Celebrity Big Brother contestant Sam Faiers had been diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease. Since the announcement, the charity “forCrohns” has been inundated with requests for information, advice and support particularly from teenagers and those in their 20s.
Sam’s story feature in TOWIE on 23rd February and also appeared on this Morning on 24th February which you can watch again here: http://www.itv.com/thismorning/health/celebrity-surgery-sam-faiers-crohns-disease-diagnosis
Crohn’s Disease is an Inflammatory Bowel Disease which causes inflammation and ulceration throughout the gastrointestinal system and symptoms include severe stomach pains and chronic diarrhoea. One in 1,000 people have Crohn’s in the UK and about three-quarters of people with Crohn’s will need bowel resection surgery at some point in their lifetime.
Youngsters have been telling forCrohns through their social media channels, that the two main reasons why sufferers are uncomfortable talking about their condition are the embarrassing symptoms and the invisible nature of the illness which means it is difficult to explain the pain they are suffering. Symptoms of the bowel tend not to be dinner party conversation and when so few people have heard of the condition, let alone understand it, it’s no wonder that people can suffer in silence.
That’s why the diagnosis of high profile celebrities and the subsequent publicity, can have a profound impact on the ease with which people can talk about the condition. And for the growing number of young people with Crohn’s who are trying to navigate puberty, relationships and the challenges of education – learning that a high profile and glamorous celebrity such as Sam Faiers also has the condition, can suddenly make them feel not quite so alone.
Many youngsters have also revealed to us that they have felt more comfortable talking about their condition in the past few days because the topic was being talked about in the media and people might feel more sympathetic towards them.
Co-founder and trustee of forCrohns, Tasha Adley commented, “There are few celebrities that openly discuss their Crohn’s condition – those that do include magician Dynamo – but in the 48 hours since Sam’s diagnosis, our Twitter following has risen by 5%, and we have been inundated with requests for tips around liquid only diets, and messages from teenagers asking to know if there are others their age with the condition they can speak to.”
Adley continued, “We constantly hear how difficult people find it to speak up about their condition because of the stigma related to bowel symptoms. Social media has created a vital community of support for many people but we need to continue to work hard to replicate that level of support in the offline world, by continuing to raise the profile of Crohn’s Disease – and that’s exactly why we setup forCrohns. ’
Les Ferdinand, former footballer and current Assistant Manager of Tottenham Hotspur is patron of the charity forCrohns and added, “I became patron of the forCrohns charity because I can see how hard the team work to raise vital funds for this invisible illness. We need more awareness of this condition so more people can talk about and understand it, offering further support to those with Crohn’s Disease.”
forCrohns is the only charity in the UK solely dedicated to funding research into and raising awareness of Crohn’s Disease. The charity is run entirely by volunteers, and to date has raised over £300,000 to fund research into the condition.
A media fact sheet can be downloaded here.