ORGANIZER: CELIAC DISEASE CENTER
I started suffering from stomach problems in the spring of 2003. It took until 2011 before I was diagnosed with celiac disease. That day I stopped eating gluten, started feeling better, and my life changed. The period from 2003-2011 was very difficult. Living with undiagnosed celiac disease meant constantly trying to figure out what was making me feel sick and spending a lot of time frankly sick. I have since learned that my experience is not atypical. Celiac disease is only now gaining more widespread awareness as something to be tested for and considered when early stage stomach or intestinal issues are encountered. By the time I had deteriorated in 2011 I was really worried there was something seriously wrong with me. Finding out the diagnosis meant both I didn't have something even worse and I could start getting better immediately. The Celiac Center at Columbia University is crucial to making sure my plight is not repeated. They are working on research to try to understand the disease better. They are diagnosing and treating patients with the disease. They are working with patients on best nutrition habits for those living with the disease. Hopefully, one day through all of its efforts, the Center will find a cure for the disease - I know they are trying!In the spring of 2016, I started running. I wanted to get in shape and I set my goals small at first. Run a mile - then two, then four. By the summer, I had competed in an 8 mile race. Having lived in NYC my whole adult life, I always followed the marathon and thought one day I'd like to do that but never thought it was possible. As I built up stamina the idea become a possibility. Now it is going to become a reality and I am so proud to do so in support of the Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University that is working around the clock focused on the disease that made me unhealthy for so long. So for each of those 26 miles I will be thinking about all the people unsure why their stomachs hurt and how my race can help them one day get better.