Young Girl Overcomes Crohn's to Run Marathons
Photo credit: Miami Herald
At age 12, Esther Hirsch was tiny for her age. Underdeveloped and scrawny, doctors told her she had a growth deficiency. She received treatment for this, but the medications did nothing to improve her condition. Not only was she underweight, but she also had no appetite and suffered from stomach pains as well as frequent bouts of diarrhea.
At 16, she looked quite sickly, and all the doctors her parents took her to thought she was suffering from gastritis or that she was simply experiencing the effects of too much stress. By this age, she weighed in at just 90 pounds. Her family quickly became very worried for her health and began to search far and wide for answers about her condition. She started to visit doctors all over America, seeking treatment; much of her time was spent in doctor’s clinics or at hospitals. Finally, Dr. Jesse Garcia correctly diagnosed Esther with Crohn’s disease, meaning she was suffering from inflammatory bowel disease, not an eating disorder or stress. The moment they learned what her disease was, Esther’s family started her on treatments, which included a short course of steroids to decrease the inflammation. Slowly, her symptoms began to calm down, and then she was switched over to a biologic therapy called Remicade, which is a treatment given as an infusion once every eight to ten weeks. This method helps to prevent any further destruction to the tissues. Gradually, Esther started to heal, and the Remicade treatment eventually brought her into remission. She also began to eat as her appetite returned and was able to gain 20 pounds in the first few months after treatment ended. Later on, she decided to take up modeling and is now able to live a normal life with her newfound confidence and a new look.
The exact reason as to what could have triggered Crohn’s disease in Esther is still unknown. It is thought that stress and diet could have worsened it, but neither one can cause Crohn’s. Esther has to cut down on certain things that could trigger her symptoms, including alcohol, fried foods, beans, certain greens, and granola. Today, Esther is a 25-year-old grown-up gal, living her life to the fullest and feeling good about her health. She has achieved her goals, something many IBD patients can’t say themselves. She has managed to stay healthy and is still in the remission period, even going so far as to run three half-marathons. This is a difficult feat for many individuals with chronic medical conditions. Esther’s story is a real-life example of how important it is to diagnose a disease correctly during its initial stages in order to have it corrected and keep it from getting worse. The simple, yet complicated task was to identify the disease first, and then the appropriate treatment could begin, which really helped Esther to get her life back and live it normally.