April Derr is usually seen working as a paramedic with the Upper Perkiomen Valley Ambulance. In her off time she is training to run in the Rock N’ Roll Half Marathon to be held in Las Vegas, Nevada which will raise funds for the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America.
Imagine living a life filled with debilitating abdominal pain, embarrassment and fear that no one will ever understand you are coping with a disease, not a figment of your imagination.
For years April Derr, 29, dealt with chronic gastrointestinal symptoms which led her to doctor after doctor and multiple misdiagnoses. Eventually, in 2003, she was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease.
Crohn’s is a chronic disease that causes inflammation and ulcers in the gastrointestinal tract. Symptoms include persistent diarrhea, bleeding, and abdominal cramping and pain, to name a few. It inhibits the body’s ability to absorb vital nutrients.
In the United States, between 400,000 and 600,000 people are affected, with the average onset between the ages of 15 to 30 years. However, this disease is commonly misdiagnosed, especially in children, as the symptoms appear and disappear frequently.
Crohn’s is difficult to diagnose regardless of age and usually is not considered in children unless they fail to grow. Children with Crohn’s tend to feel better when they do not eat and, in turn, lose their appetite.
Derr, who was first diagnosed at the age of 20, had symptoms for years prior to getting answers. For her, pain was the initial symptom. She describes it as “shards of glass in your stomach.” She experienced other symptoms as well, but feels the “pain was the worst part.”
Her disease heightened in 2009 when she had to undergo bowel resection surgery because of tightening of her intestine due to Crohn’s. She was subsequently out of work for several weeks and continued with pain associated with recovery.
Today, Derr is doing well and is in remission. She works as a paramedic for Upper Perkiomen Valley Ambulance Association and currently lives in Emmaus with her fiancé. Although there is still a threat the Crohn’s may flare up, she has become passionate about distance running and a great cause.
The Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA) is a non-profit organization that is dear to her heart. CCFA is raising money to help support further research and a potential cure for the disease.
Derr is raising funds for CCFA and will be participating in an endurance race, the Rock N’ Roll Half Marathon, held in Las Vegas, Nevada. So far, she has raised $2000 with a goal of $5,000 by race day which is December 2, 2012. This is her first year participating in this particular event and she will be one of approximately 14,000 people supporting the cause.
She has said, “I run because I have Crohn’s disease and because I can change lives and help find a cure.” Her continued support of CCFA and fundraising will touch many lives as well as provide educational information to other patients nationwide.
She is now able to speak more openly about her disease and feels by doing so it may help others who suffer the same pain and embarrassment.
“No one should have to suffer like I did, especially children who are most often misdiagnosed,” she explained.
She is asking for support from businesses, neighbors, friends and family in the area by way of monetary donation. She gives the local community support on a daily basis as a paramedic and truly is an advocate for her cause. She is the voice for so many suffering in silence.
Anyone willing to help support her cause may visit her official fundraising website at http://www.active.com/donate/pdLV12/CrohnieMedic, send a check or money order made out to CCFA to April Derr at 1373 Pennsylvania Avenue, Emmaus 18049, or call her at 610-570-0746.