Healthy Living

College Sophomore Turns to Sorority for Crohn's Support

College Sophomore Turns to Sorority for Crohn's Support

When people think of sororities in universities, thoughts of major support for a girl with a disease do not usually come to mind. However, that was exactly Rhiannon Cobb's experience, showing the values and compassion behind many sororities.

Rhiannon's story

The idea of being diagnosed with Crohn's disease would be devastating for many. However, when Rhiannon received her diagnosis on June 14, 2012, she felt a sensation of relief instead of dread. This is because she had been suffering from intense stomach pains for many years, but never knew why. Now, she finally had an explanation.

Her doctors estimated that she had only a week to live, due to high levels of infection throughout her body. Not only that, but the results of many tests showed an abscess.

Rhiannon explained the uncertainty surrounding the discovery, "it was so confusing. I essentially heard, 'Don't get this out, you die.' That was terrifying because [I was doing] pretty well, getting a new diagnosis, feeling OK, then all of a sudden they're like, 'You're back in Children's [Hospital in Omaha]. It was bad. I had very little time to adjust to a new diagnosis and then [I] was thrown into high school at the same time. So not only is that the most stressful transition for most people, [I was] also dealing with a chronic illness."

The doctors decided a surgery to drain the abscess was crucial, and Rhiannon also had a permanent IV for antibiotic infusions. Unfortunately, despite these moves forward, she still had significant pain relating to Crohn's disease that she had to deal with while also transitioning into high school. To treat these symptoms, her doctors recommended chemotherapy.

Rhiannon explained this experience, "after surgery, [I had] chemotherapy treatment, which is a scary word but it's not as bad as it sounds, [and is] one of the strongest medications you can get for Crohn's. I was like, 'Oh, cool. This will be great. This will be fun to explain to my friends when I go back to high school.'"

High school experience

It is entirely unsurprising that Rhiannon experienced difficulties in high school given all that she was going through. Because of her exhaustion due to chemotherapy and stomach pains, she would often be unable to attend school.

However, during her second semester her attendance began to rise as her health improved. Eventually, she was able to become an integral member of robotics, speech, band, and theater.

While many would assume Crohn's would dissuade a student from getting involved, Rhiannon believed that her experience was just the opposite. She explained, "I truly think I became a lot more passionate about everything I do when I was given that week to live. I don't have to just sit here; I don't have to be a sick kid. I am capable of doing a lot."

This was certainly true, as she went on to work for the Daily Nebraskan, and when she went to university, she became very involved on campus.

Read on to learn more about Rhiannon's experience.