Interning with Crohn’s Disease

Editor’s note: We got in touch with Gabi recently after she tweeted at us with her blog. We always love to hear inspiring stories, such as Gabi’s, so invited Gabi to blog and share her story with you all here. If you have an inspiring story you would like to share, please get in touch!

My name is Gabi Cox and I am a 21 year old fashion student and intern. To look at, you would think I was a completely normal girl in her 20s, but when I was 16 I was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease, a life long bowel disease.

Since my diagnosis I have battled for six years with hospitals, awful treatment and being very poorly indeed. In the past year I have had two hospitalisations and four weeks ago I had my first surgery. Despite all the doctors best efforts I had to have an ileostomy, leaving me with a stoma (called Margaret) and a bag.

All of this has been happening alongside my life in the fashion industry. I am now about to enter in to the final year of my dream degree and I try to complete as many internships as I can. These internships are exhausting for the average student but having Crohn’s means I suffer more than normal. Despite this I do not let the disease stop me and throw myself in to any placement I can get. I have continued interning whilst being extremely unwell and have only stopped interning when I was home bound by the disease. I have always been very upfront to my placements about my disease, and I have never had any negativity. People are so kind and understanding when they find out, especially if you are still working hard and don’t let it get you down. Over time I have learnt what I can realistically cope with and although I push myself to the limit I now know when to stop. Now that I have Margaret and a bag, I should have an element of security. Once the recovery process is over I will be largely symptom-free and be able to live a normal life again. For me this means completing many more internships, which I have already booked, as well as graduating. To many Crohn’s Disease and Margaret would seem like a huge disadvantage but I prefer to look at things differently. I am much more determined and have an extremely strong work ethic as a result of the disease; I know I have to go the extra mile and put in the extra effort to achieve my goals. This attitude has meant I have been able to complete placements at some of the top fashion magazines in the world.

Since being unwell and stuck in bed I have not slowed my momentum to achieve, I have scheduled future placements and have set up my own blog. My blog, The Gift of the Gab, documents my journey with the disease, including surgery, as well as my life as an intern. My blog has only been live for 7 weeks but already has nearly over 27,000 views – it has been shared by the likes of Lord Alan Sugar, Elle’s Editor in Chief, Lorraine Candy and The Telegraph’s Fashion Director, Hilary Alexander. I approach the disease with honesty but also with humour and light heartedness. I want my blog to raise awareness for the disease and to banish the stigma attached to IBD and ostomies. I want people to talk about it and show that despite it all one can still live a normal life and be successful.

You can follow my story at giftofthegab1.blogspot.co.uk and @gabicox12 on Twitter.

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