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Friday, July 22, 2016

Twins Taking Steps!

Jill and Jamie are Taking a Step to Fight Crohns here is there story. It is said that the bond between twins is unlike any other sibling bond. Twins go through life sharing everything – birthdays, clothing, friends, school, and much more. Jamie Mendelsohn and Jill Theisen are no different. The 39-year-old twins shared everything as children and now, as adults, they share another major aspect of their lives – inflammatory bowel diseases. Jamie and Jill were both diagnosed with ulcerative colitis in their 20s – Jamie in 1999 and Jill in 2002. Jamie spent the first few years with ulcerative colitis on a variety of medications and being in and out of the hospital. In 2004, Jamie had a colectomy – surgical removal of the colon – and an ileostomy– and over a dozen blood transfusions. Later that year, she had a second surgery to reconnect her small intestine and create a j-pouch. She thrived following the surgery until 2007 when she began experiencing symptoms and extraintestinal manifestations; this included pyoderma gangrenosum and fistulas. Jamie has since been re-diagnosed with Crohn’s disease and has lived with an ileostomy since 2011. Jamie has a successful career ,and she travels nationally with the Ashar Group LLC, as VP of Life Insurance Policy Valuations, speaking in front of large audiences. Jill was diagnosed three years after watching Jamie live with ulcerative colitis. Although she was devastated by the diagnosis, watching her sister persevere helped her maintain a positive attitude. She lived with minimal symptoms and was able to get pregnant and have a healthy pregnancy without any major flaring. Following the birth of her daughter, she became extremely sick and ended up taking time off from work to focus on her health. In 2007, Jill had surgery to remove her colon and had her reconnection surgery three months later. Since her surgery, she has had some complications but has been able to maintain a great life with her thriving career, daughter, and husband. After such a long journey filled with hospitalizations, surgeries, and much more, Jamie and Jill decided they wanted to get involved and raise awareness and funds for Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. They became aware of CCFA through literature in their doctor’s office and, as they say, the rest is history. Jamie and Jill began fundraising for Take Steps six years ago. Since their first walk, they’ve nearly tripled their fundraising goal, aiming to raise $100,000 to support CCFA’s mission-critical research, education, and patient support programs. Sharing a disease has made Jamie and Jill extremely interested in the genetic component of IBD. Genome-wide association studies in IBD patients have identified 100 non-overlapping genetic markers, of which approximately 50 are unique to either Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis. CCFA’s Genetics Initiative, which has already identified more than 200 genes associated with IBD, is allowing a better understanding of the genes and their functions, and the chain of biological events that result in IBD. Join Jamie and Jill in helping to find cures for IBD. Sign up for a Take Steps walk today!

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