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Crohn's Disease

Crohn's disease is a type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that may affect any part of the gastrointestinal tract. Signs and symptoms often include abdominal pain, diarrhea, fever, and weight loss, and possible bowel obstruction.  Other complications may occur outside the gastrointestinal tract and include anemia, skin rashes, arthritis, and tiredness.  Crohn's disease is caused by a combination of environmental, immune and bacterial factors in genetically susceptible individuals. It results in a chronic inflammatory disorder, in which the body's immune system attacks the gastrointestinal tract possibly directed at microbial antigens.

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Stories Of Hope: Diana Castillo-chow, High-grade Serous Ovarian Cancer Patient

Despite her continuing fight against stage 4 high-grade serous ovarian cancer, Diana Chow describes herself as a woman with options. She attributes that positive outlook to her MD Anderson care team, led by Kathleen Schmeler, M.D., assistant professor in Gynecologic Oncology and Reproductive Medicine. "Thank God for MD Anderson," says Diana. "Otherwise, I'm certain that right now I wouldn't be here." It all began Dec. 16, 2010, a day that did not go as Diana had planned. Good intentions of helping her sister move furniture led to a pulled abdominal muscle, a trip to the emergency room and a CAT scan that revealed a much more serious concern. Ironically, it was a year to the day since Diana had lost her husband to complications from diabetes. "It was a hard time for me," she says. From the emergency room, Diana went to MD Anderson, where further tests showed not one but many tumors — on her liver, intestine, spine and elsewhere. "I was surprised at how much the cancer had spread, but Dr. Schmeler gave me options from the very beginning," says Diana. She underwent chemotherapy followed by surgery and "a few more chemotherapy sessions." "Everything looked fine," says Diana. "I was gradually back into the swing of things. I was getting my hair back, and I went to my daughter's graduation from culinary school." In September 2011, Diana returned to MD Anderson, and "there it was, this stubborn tumor that wouldn't go away." Diana continues to fight back, grateful to have choices with each new round of chemotherapy and radiation. "There's always hope, and you're never out of options," says Diana. "That's what keeps me going." Diana, whose family has a history of cancer, has tested positive for the BRCA1 gene. That knowledge, she says, is a powerful prevention tool for her two grown daughters. "I want my children to be proactive with this test so they can prevent getting stage 4 cancer," she says. Since her diagnosis, Diana has been concerned at the lack of funds for ovarian cancer research. She had a cause to champion when she heard that MD Anderson had selected high-grade serous ovarian cancer for the Moon Shots Program. "My solution is raising awareness of my type of cancer and of the need for philanthropic dollars to support much needed research," she says. "Research is important. It gives me options." MD Anderson is synonymous with hope, says Diana. "I put my life on hold the year after my husband passed away," she says. "But I realized I have to keep living. I have faith in MD Anderson — it gives me the hope and the strength to keep going." For more information and to make a donation, visit: cancermoonshots.org

3 Minutes, 59 Seconds September 17, 2015

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