When I was little, my dad and I would play in the living room: He’d put my stomach on his feet, and fly me around like an airplane. Then one time, he did it and my stomach hurt.
I was three years old, down to about 20 pounds, and losing weight really fast. I wasn't eating anything and was very, very sick. My parents took me to Doernbecher, and Dr. William Marshall diagnosed me with Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). I was the youngest child he had ever diagnosed with IBD.
Even then, I still remember how good it felt to be at Doernbecher Hospital. For a sick child it is actually a happy place to be! All the people were really amazing, and I remember having tubes up my nose and down my throat and the doctors making me laugh really hard.
When I was first diagnosed, they all said I’d probably miss a lot of school, I wouldn’t be able to play sports and I’d be in and out of the hospital. Well, I'm thrilled to report, I've never had to miss school and I'm carrying a 4.0 GPA in my junior year at West Salem High School. I am the Junior class president, work as a student intern for Marion and Polk Schools Credit Union, am in my second year with Salem Chamber of Commerce Youth Leadership Program and I'm currently on target to be a valedictorian at West Salem High School.
I have played Boys and Girls Club Volleyball and Soccer, but I'm most proud of my racing career. I love anything with wheels and a steering wheel! Three years ago I started racing 125cc high speed go-karts, and now am one of the fastest drivers in the Northwest and Western Canada. I’ve even won the Seattle region championship. Next season, I will move to full size cars and make Portland International Raceway my home track!
Being so sick when I was younger changed my point of view. I’ve had to do stuff that normal kids haven’t. It’s helped me manage the most important things in my life: You can do a lot more than you think.
I’m 16 now. We go to Portland about every three months to see Dr. Marshall for blood tests and to see if we need to adjust any of my medications. He’s incredible. I’ve never been scared because of him.
I'm so thankful for my health. Each day I think of how fortunate I am, and it all started with a badly needed visit to Doernbecher.