Making an Invisible Disease Visible
The AbbVie IBD Scholarship is about more than financial support. It’s about being seen.
Ten years ago, Navjit Kaur Moore couldn’t imagine being where she is today: a first-year medical student, a Doctor of Pharmacy, decorated volunteer and excited fiancé. Ten years ago, Moore couldn’t fathom what her future looked like, let alone how to thrive in it.
At 19, Moore was diagnosed with inflammatory bowel disease IBD, specifically ulcerative colitis. She had been constantly unwell, experiencing pain, bloating, diarrhea and constipation so severe that it often prevented her from attending school—sometimes spending entire lectures in the bathroom. Indeed, the last nine years have been a rollercoaster for Moore. “I’ve had several flare-ups, multiple hospitalizations and cycles of steroids, immunosuppressants and biologic infusions. My social life was non-existent. My grades suffered. I had to withdraw from third year. At times, I felt like I would never get better.”
Photo: Navjit Kaur Moore
But then Moore found a community that understood what she was going through, and that helped her understand how to prioritize her health above school, work and social life: Crohn’s and Colitis Canada, a charity committed to education, support, advocacy, as well as finding cures and improving the lives of those affected by IBD through research.
“A frustrating part of living with IBD—the main forms being Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis—is a lack of awareness of the severity of these diseases. People may look fine on the outside but dealing with excruciating pain and symptoms on the inside,” explains Lori Radke, President and CEO of Crohn’s and Colitis Canada, adding that many people with IBD often feel alone in their journey, missing important life moments not knowing when their disease will flare up.
Crohn’s and Colitis Canada wants to make the invisible disease visible, support those living with IBD in achieving their academic aspirations. That’s why they partnered with AbbVie, a research-based biopharmaceutical company committed to helping patients thrive, to build a scholarship fund for students living with IBD. Now in the scholarship’s 11th successful year, 15 exceptional students living with IBD who are pursuing post-secondary education in Canada will receive a $5,000 scholarship. “IBD is most often diagnosed in those between the ages of 15 and 30, which is typically when people are pursuing their education and starting careers,” says Alison Shore, Director of Patient Experience at AbbVie. “Nearly 70% of people living with IBD have delayed completing their education because of their disease. This scholarship can help alleviate stress by easing the financial burden so students can focus on their studies.”
Since the scholarship’s creation, 109 people have received the AbbVie IBD Scholarship. In 2018, Moore was one of those recipients. “The scholarship helped me more than just financially. Being recognized for overcoming adversity gave me the confidence to speak about my journey in academic settings,” she says. “It took a lot of hard work to get where I am with IBD, and being recognized for that was immensely rewarding.”
The application period for the 2022 scholarship is now open, and students have until June 1 to apply. To learn more about the scholarship, previous recipients, and Crohn’s and colitis, please visit ibdscholarship.ca; crohnsandcolitis.ca.