Left to right: Cherylann and her nurse Barbara at the Kensington Screening Clinic.
Growing up in British Columbia, Cherylann always knew that she wanted to work in the music industry. After completing her studies, she moved across the country to chase her dream in Toronto. Eventually, through perseverance and hard work Cherylann landed a job at MTV Canada.
At 19, Cherylann started to experience stomach issues, but like many people she avoided going to the doctor and assumed that she had a sensitive stomach.
Five years later, Cherylann was working long hours when she started feeling sick. She assumed it was stress related, and a consequence of working long hours without enough sleep.
It wasn’t until 2015, at 27 years old, when Cherylann knew something was wrong. She checked herself into the hospital due to blood in her stool and was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis.
“I was devastated.” she said.
What is Inflammatory Bowel Disease?
Ulcerative colitis is a form of Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (IBD). Symptoms include abdominal pain, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, fever and malaise. There is no cure, no known cause, and little public understanding of the pain and suffering. This leaves people like Cherylann courageously having to cope with pain every day of their lives. IBD is most commonly diagnosed in people’s early twenties and often affects young people during critical years of schooling and career growth. The first year after diagnosis was quite challenging. Cherylann started infusion treatment to suppress her symptoms, and some people in her life even suggested she go on long-term disability. Her family doctor encouraged her to take another direction.
Cherylann used YouTube as an outlet to share her experience with IBD.
“My doctor told me not to give in or let this disease become my life,” said Cherylann. ”Then came a turning point, instead of sitting and sulking about it, I decided to own it and make it a positive thing.”
Cherylann used her media prowess and creativity to create a YouTube channel called “Party Pooper”. She started posting videos about her experience living with IBD and quickly gained a following.
“I had young people comment and say that they’ve been experiencing similar symptoms, and that I inspired them to go to the doctor and get treatment,” said Cherylann.
Without necessarily intending to, Cherylann became an advocate for people living with IBD. Last year, Cherylann became a patient at Kensington Screening Clinic. “On my first day of infusion treatment, I was nervous and scared. Barbara, the infusion nurse came up to me and gave me a hug.” she said. “I immediately felt welcome. The clinic is a warm space, it’s my space, not a cold room where I get treated like a number.”
Four years after receiving her diagnosis, Cherylann is still working with Bell media. She did not give in to her disease.
“My mom calls me the golden child. I’m doing the best that I can,” she said.