Tuesday, January 29, 2013
If you knew there was a way to help ease the suffering of those dealing with the pain of a life-limiting illness, would you do it? For Daniel Island residents Gisele and Mark Woodward, it was an easy “yes.”
Mark was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease 22 years ago and had long coped with the debilitating symptoms associated with the condition. The couple’s son, Jack, was diagnosed with the same disease in 2011, at age 8. About five months later, doctors confirmed that their daughter, Kristina, then age 10, had Ulcerative Colitis. Crohn’s and Colitis, together known as Irritable Bowel Disease (IBD), affect some 1.4 million people in the United States alone. The conditions cause inflammation, lesions and abscesses in the digestive system. Both are incurable and can be painful and incapacitating during flares.
Gisele and Mark were eager to explore non-pharmaceutical treatments for the diseases. When their children’s Atlanta-based physician recommended a new, back to basics diet being studied among pediatric patients, they were immediately intrigued.
“I’ve always been open to diets,” said Gisele. “…If there was ever any alternative to medication, especially in children, affecting growth and other things…that had always been my hope. Knowing both kids, and Mark, had IBD, we were ready to consider any sort of change that would minimize risk of flares and keep the disease manageable.”
The “Special Carbohydrate Diet” led to an almost immediate improvement in symptoms for Mark, Jack and Kristina. As per the diet, patients must eliminate all complex carbohydrates, refined sugars and certain categories of dairy products.
“Thanks to the diet, Kristina and Jack no longer need to take prescriptions to manage their conditions,” said Gisele. “And most importantly, they are no longer in pain. As a parent, there is no greater feeling than knowing your children are not suffering.”
“The diet has really moved us all in the right direction,” added Mark. “Gisele does it right along with us to show her support, and because it truly is a healthier way to eat. For me, I feel better and have a lot more energy overall.”
The Woodward family’s response to the diet has been so impressive that they decided it was time to take it to the next level, a stage from which they could help even more IBD sufferers. They formed the Woodward Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation (WCCF) in 2012 to support non-pharmaceutical options for keeping IBD symptoms under control. Through a partnership with the Children’s Hospital of Atlanta, their foundation is helping to raise money for multi-site clinical trials for the diet that has had such a positive impact on the Woodward family and many other patients.
“By understanding your body and managing your symptoms, you can live a full and rewarding life,” added Gisele. “We think you can do it by eating right. And we’re out to fund research to prove it.”
The WCCF has pledged to help Children’s Hospital of Atlanta raise the remaining $250,000 it needs to fund the trials. Their first fundraiser, a “Glow Golf and Party,” will be held on March 9 at the Daniel Island Club. For information on this event, or to find out more about the Woodward Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation, please visit www.woodwardccf.org.