Stephanie Gish, IBD & IgA Warrior
I am passionate about health and fitness, but the road to finding my best health (and best self) has been a rocky one! After earning the title of Miss EIU Fitness during college in 2001 and 2002, I experienced my first symptoms of Crohn’s disease in 2003; I received my official diagnosis in 2009. I faced the challenge of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) head on and began my lifetime search of better physical, mental, and emotional health. But just when I thought I had a handle on my health, I underwent a kidney biopsy in 2021 that confirmed IgA nephropathy.
Despite Crohn’s disease and IgA nephropathy, I’ve been determined to not let chronic illness slow me down. Eager to see the world, I spent my first year of college on the Big Island of Hawaii, then finished my degree in broadcast journalism at Eastern Illinois University, where I joined the ROTC program and earned a commission as an Army officer upon graduating. My first military assignment took me to San Antonio, Texas, where I stayed for over a decade until moving to Florida in August 2022, where I’m now surrounded by palm trees, sand, and water — that all feed my soul.
Today, I focus a lot of my time on combining my lifelong loves of writing and journalism with helping to raise awareness for IBD and IgA nephropathy. I’ve been blogging about my IBD journey since 2017 and started the Crohn’s Fitness Food podcast in 2019 to help share the stories of other Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis patients so that we can share, learn from each other, and never feel alone. And since everyone with a love of writing must write a book, I recently finished writing about my 20-year journey with Crohn’s disease (and diagnosis of IgA nephropathy) that will be available as an audiobook and eBook in early 2023.
Navigating both Crohn’s disease and IgA nephropathy has forced me to think outside the box, try new things, and accept that things will always change. I am grateful for the friendships I’ve developed over the years with fellow IBD and IgA warriors and hope that we can all gain strength, hope, and health from the lessons and stories we share with each other. Be strong, be grateful, and keep going!