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Dealing with Crohn’s disease

By the time doctors figured out the wrenching childhood pain in her stomach wasn’t all in her head, Ivana Bosek had dropped more than 20 pounds and needed surgery to remove 16 inches of her small intestine. She was 16 and finally had a diagnosis: Crohn’s disease.

Bosek, 22, will graduate next weekend from the University at Buffalo with a bachelor’s in contemporary marketing through social media. During her college years, she has used a mix of medication, mindfulness and better nutrition to keep her condition in check, most of the time.

After graduation, she will set out on a cross-country journey to interview doctors, holistic health providers and fellow Crohn’s, colitis and inflammatory bowel disease sufferers to find out how others are dealing with these autoimmune diseases. She hopes to raise $20,000 by noon Wednesday through a kickstarter campaign at kck.st/1IhAGfb.

Q. What have you learned about what causes these diseases and how to best manage them?

As much as doctors will tell you it’s this, this or this, they don’t know for sure. You can learn from one doctor it’s genetic, from another it’s environmental, from somebody else that it’s highly due to your gut-mind connection – with your gut being a second brain. You can have doctors tell you your diet doesn’t play into it at all, which to me is ridiculous. … I believe the gut microbiome has a lot to do with it. I believe environment has to do with it, your diet has to do with it. Your mind has to do with it. All of those things combined are going to make or break you.

Q. What steps have you taken besides your diet?

I take an autoimmune suppressant called Cimzia. I do practice a lot of self-healing: deep breathing and trying to calm any pessimistic thoughts. Yoga, definitely. Things to calm your soul. I’ve learned to be really patient with my body. If something is happening as a result of Crohn’s, I tend to get really frustrated if it’s getting in the way of me getting to class, socializing with my friends. I’ve learned to accept those moments and understand I’m different than a lot of people. I just need to be patient with myself.

– Scott Scanlon

On the Web: Find out more about Ivana Bosek and her journey through Crohn’s disease at refresh.buffalonews.com and thecrohnsmoans.com.