Meet: Ellen Andrews
For many people in the region, Badin High School junior Ellen Andrews is the face of recovery from a chronic, often debilitating illness.
Last year the Southwest Ohio chapter of the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation, where she is an active volunteer and co-chair of the local “Dare to Dream” team, named her Student Honoree of the Year.
Diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease in seventh grade, Andrews is a happy and involved student at the Hamilton (OH) high school, where she studies art, plays tennis, works backstage in the theater department, and acts as a student Ambassador.
But five years ago, Andrews was a tiny 4-ft-7 and weighted only 67 pounds. Diagnosed with the condition in 2008, she was put on a feeding tube for added nutrition, and shown how to give herself daily growth hormone shots.
The treatment has made all the difference. “It’s really awesome,’‘says Andrews, whose only treatment is now a five-hour intravenous treatment of a drug called Remicade every eight weeks. “I’ve never felt any better than I feel right now. I hardly have any symptoms. I can eat just about anything, as long as I do it in moderation.”
Andrews credits her family (she has two older sisters) for providing a strong support system, her doctor James Franciosi for an “amazing” treatment plan, and her technology teacher at Mother Teresa Catholic Elementary School in Liberty Township (OH) for inspiration. A colitis patient himself, teacher Matt Bailey brought her on to his Dare to Dream team.
“Meeting Matt Bailey was the best thing ever – he’s been such a role model for me,” Andrews says. Since joining the team four years ago she has helped raise more than $13,000 for the Foundation, and has shared her story with many people.
“I’ve had a lot of struggles,’’ she says, “but at the same time, I know I could have had it so much worse. I have it easier than some people. So I feel like I’m really lucky.”
“She’s a very strong young lady,’’ says her mother, Beth. “She’s got the attitude that ‘I might have Crohn’s Disease, but Crohn’s Disease doesn’t have me.’ It doesn’t define who she is.”
Andrews is thinking about college now and is considering majoring in art therapy, to combine her ongoing Crohn’s work and her talents to help others for many years to come.
Photo courtesy Badin High School.
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