Featured: Anna’s Army
By: Jasmin Prasad
Stories of true strength and resilience often seem to be told about fictional people in faraway lands, removed from the person reading about them. Because they are fictional, their inspirational messages creates a disconnect between them and the reader
Anna Noto’s story is not one such fictional story. Noto is a member of the local Pacific community, and is currently a first year student. She was diagnosed with the autoimmune disease, Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), when she was 16 years old.
Noto recalls that when she was first diagnosed, she thought her life was over. She had been showing symptoms since she was just five years old. One of the first steps she took after hearing about her local Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation Chapter was creating “Anna’s Army”.
“Anna’s Army is a Take Steps team. My friends and family are able to support me as an IBD patient and help raise money for the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation. The money goes towards funding research, education, patient support, and more,” says Noto.
Noto warrants that the support from her foundation helped her to realize that her life was, in fact, far from over. So this sentiment can also be shared by others with IBD, Noto encourages people with IBD -- or those who know individuals with it --- to seek support through local Crohn’s and Colitis Chapters.
Support is much needed for a disease of this magnitude. IBD is “autoimmune,” meaning that the body is actively fighting against itself -- attacking even healthy cells.
“While IBD mainly causes inflammation and ulceration in the digestive system it really does affect a patient’s entire body…many patients like myself will be on biologic medications and/or steroids for the rest of our lives,” says Noto.
Noto finds herself having to go to the hospital every four weeks for an infusion of one of her medications; something particularly hard for her to deal with during her formative young adult years.
Nevertheless, Noto is keen on raising awareness for IBD for the 3.1 million other Americans that have the disease. Support for patients with IBD is not limited to just donating: “I would recommend educating yourself on the disease. It is likely you will meet and even be friends with some of them and having a little basic knowledge on the disease really means a lot to patients and caregivers.”
There are also volunteer opportunities available at local chapters and fundraising events. More recently, Noto herself hosted a fundraiser on January 29th where $760 was raised for the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation!
For anyone who wishes to donate, below is Noto’s link: http://online.crohnscolitisfoundation.org/goto/AnnaNoto2021