I was diagnosed with Interstitial Cystitis in 2016 after being struggling for months with what many of my doctors believed were recurring UTIs, despite never showing any concrete signs of infection. I was in pain constantly and running to the restroom every hour, and I had no idea how to even begin to feel better. At the time, I didn't fully understand what it meant to be diagnosed with a chronic, incurable disease, and it took quite some time before I made the necessary changes to my lifestyle so that I could begin my journey to managing my symptoms. Those changes meant giving up quite a few things that I found most enjoyable (Pizza, my first love, I miss you), starting medications that curbed my pain, but came with some serious side effects, and many, many trips in and out of doctors' and physical therapists' offices.
This June, I will begin a 650 mile journey through parts of Northern California and Oregon on the Pacific Crest Trail. Though I still struggle with some of my IC symptoms, I am very blessed to be in a place where I truly believe this trip is within my reach. I have met many IC patients over the last 2 years that are not, and many who will never be, in this same position. I decided that if I was going to do this trip, something that 2 years ago I could not have begun to wrap my head around, I need to make it special for more than just myself. I have been backpacking for a little more than 3 years, and my longing for the outdoors only became stronger after receiving my diagnosis and spending so much time inside. I am extremely lucky to have a relatively mild form of IC and to have been so responsive to most treatments, and I want to use that priviledge to make a difference in the lives of others.
Interstitial Cystitis currently has no known causes, nor does it have any known cure. Thousands of women and men suffer with extreme pelvic pain and urinary frequency and urgency, but will fail to be diagnosed because of lack of knowledge of the disease or misconceptions of the level of pain that comes with IC. The Interstitial Cystitis Association is a non-profit organization that, on a very limited budget, manages to advocate for patient and provider education, community outreach, and medical research. They also do a tremendous job in ensuring basic patient rights to humane and reasonable care by fighting for state and federal legistlation throughout the year. 84% of their funding goes directly into their numerous programs, and only 7% of their total funding is used for administrative expenses. The ICA was my first point of contact for learning about this disease when I was first diagnosed, and has been a critical tool for becoming an informed patient.
I appreciate your consideration in donating to this cause; Your contributions will make a direct impact on the lives of many dealing with IC every day.
If you prefer to donate for every mile I hike, HikeFor.com has added the ICA to their list of causes. You can get to my hike page here: http://www.hikefor.com/Grandma/PCT/2018. Your per-mile donations will be pledged through the site, but all final donations will be made directly to the ICA on this page.
Thank you all!
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