Voices Across America

My ulcerative colitis drives me to help others

Z. Delisa

State: Illinois
Congressional District: IL12


Gastrointestinal Disease, Mental Health

Issues and Challenges

Z. Delisa has encountered: Access to Expert Providers, Access to Medicine, Copay Issues, Insurance Issues, Mental Health Access, Abuse (Mental, Physical, Elder), Invisible Illness

My Story

Hi! My name is Delisa Richardson and I have been living with Ulcerative Colitis for 17 years. I’d like to take you through my journey with this disease, and why I’m such a fierce supporter of advocating for the IBD cause.

In 2002 my life was all about new beginnings: a new husband, a new baby added to our blended family, and a new home. 2002 also brought these strange and painful new symptoms to what I was always told was my “sensitive stomach.”

After being misdiagnosed for 2 years, I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis in 2004. Part of me was relieved that there was a name for what I was experiencing. The other part of me was terrified hearing words like CHRONIC, INCURABLE, and possible SURGERY. I was silent about my diagnosis for years.

In 2013 and 2014 I was hospitalized with a life-threatening complication. As a result of that setback, I began suffering from anxiety and depression. This time became a turning point for me. I was able to seek out mental health help as well as organizations that were dedicated to the IBD community. It was time to tell my story, spread awareness & raise funds for a CURE!

I have worked with the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation, being named the 2020 Adult Honored Hero. I am also a member of the Color of Crohn’s & Chronic Illness group where I’ve also shared my story, been featured in the Guide to Living with IBD magazine, and participated in interviews with local and national media outlets.

My Motivation and Inspiration

As a victim of childhood abuse and adult relational abuse, for decades I was afraid to share my voice. After learning about the 3.1 million people suffering from IBD-related illness and the research around how trauma can manifest in our bodies as illness, I felt I could no longer keep silent. I was fortunate to hear others tell their stories, and those stories helped me immensely. I knew my story could help others and I took my first steps in 2016 to share it. I'm inspired by all of the research and new drug coming out for IBD patients, however, we have a long way to go. Many of our current treatments have serious side effects. We need a cure that preserves the colon and intestines of IBD patients.

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