Living With a Game Changer

“Let’s be clear: People don’t like talking about bathroom habits,” acknowledged author and relationship coach Winter Williams. “But when it comes to ulcerative colitis, I am privileged to lend my voice to the discussion and talk about the challenges patients deal with because of this disease.”

Winter, of Vienna, Virginia, was 19 years old and four months pregnant when she was diagnosed with the immune-mediated disease, which causes inflammation of the large intestine. She had been experiencing multiple symptoms: fatigue, chronic diarrhea and, despite her pregnancy, weight loss.

Today, she is an advocate and hopes that sharing her story will give hope and inspire others to get help and not ignore their symptoms, while bringing awareness and removing the stigma behind the disease.

“Ulcerative colitis is a game changer. It impacts your quality of life in ways you really cannot prepare for,” she said. “You need to monitor so many things, including what you eat, your fatigue, when you’re not feeling well and frequency in the bathroom,” she said.

Winter is quick to add that, although there are constant ups and downs with the diagnosis, “it does not have to be something that ruins your hopes and dreams. You can still move forward and achieve whatever you want.”

She is living proof of that.

“Researchers–and the work they do – matter more than they know.”

– Winter

After the birth of her daughter, Winter began a series of treatments and lifestyle changes that have become her norm since 2001 and, along the way, was diagnosed with a second immune-mediated disease, rheumatoid arthritis. She also earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in communications, began studying for her doctorate in business and had three more children.

“All of my children have grown up with me dealing with and managing my disease,” she said. “They have learned a lot, are very supportive and have seen what can be accomplished despite the diagnosis.”

Now 39, Winter is hopeful that new treatment options for people suffering from immune-mediated diseases will continue to be made available and said she appreciates the scientists who are looking for solutions that could transform her life.

“Researchers–and the work they do – matter more than they know. They need to continue to push the envelope on every option possible to set us free from these diseases.”