The honorary chair of this year’s Gutsy Walk in the eastern Fraser Valley is urging local residents to participate in the event in support of those with Crohn’s disease and colitis.
David Egolf, 27, of Abbotsford was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease in 2019 and is among those raising awareness about inflammatory bowel disease and funds for research.
The 2022 Gutsy Walk is again taking place Sunday, June 5 in a virtual format for the eastern Fraser Valley (Abbotsford, Mission and Chilliwack).
Egolf is a 2012 graduate of Yale Secondary who earned his engineering degree in 2016 and is now finishing his master of science in electrical and computer engineering from the University of Alberta.
While completing his graduate studies, he found he was increasingly struggling with fatigue.
He also had abdominal pain and was seeing blood in his stool. He was eventually diagnosed with Crohn’s disease following a colonoscopy.
Egolf said he receives an immuno-suppressant drug every month, which helps control some of his symptoms, but living with the condition has been challenging, particularly the fatigue.
“Sometimes it feels like I have been split in to two parts. On the one hand, I am excited about my research and hobbies, and have big ideas and goals; and on the other hand, I often feel so fatigued that I’m unable to think clearly, sit up for extended periods of time, or generally do the work needed to pursue my goals,” he said.
Egolf said he was pursuing a PhD before his diagnosis, but is now finding it difficult to finish “a significantly less ambitious” master of science thesis. But support from family and friends helps him move forward, he said.
Egolf said it’s not easy for other people to see the common symptoms of Crohn’s and colitis, including fatigue, increased bowel movements and abdominal pain.
“When interacting with someone with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), it’s good to keep these points in mind,” he said.
“People with IBD are unlikely ‘to get better soon’ and may be feeling quite unwell even if they ‘look great.’”
He said each person who experiences IBD can have different symptoms with different levels of severity, and symptoms can change significantly over time.
Egolf said Canada has one of the highest rates of IBD in the world, and there is still a lot of work to do in awareness and treatment options, although major advancements have been made.
He said the Gutsy Walk is one way to help.
“I believe that we are stronger when we work together and support one another,” Egolf said.