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Hamilton Health Sciences patient takes on Ironman 70.3 triathlon to help support local Crohn’s and colitis patients

 

"I remember the first time I met with Kevin in the clinic and I told him I don't think he realizes how sick he really is. To see him come so far and be an inspiration to our patients who are battling Crohn's and colitis is inspiring. The fact that he has completed two Ironman 70.3 races along with numerous other triathlons and running races is proof that these diseases don't have to control your life."

John K. Marshall MD MSc FRCPC AGAF
Chief of Service for Gastroenterology
Hamilton Health Sciences

In 2004, Kevin was experiencing issues that are all too familiar to Crohn's and colitis sufferers. But, like many who have one or both of these diseases, he initially didn’t think that he had either one of them. 

Assuming the symptoms would eventually just go away, Kevin didn't pay too much attention and tried to carry on with his regular, day-to-day activities.

It wasn't until he saw a family physician that things started to be investigated more thoroughly and he was initially diagnosed with Ulcerative Proctitis. 

Initial medications worked and things settled down. However, the symptoms returned with a vengeance after a few weeks. It was at that point that Kevin’s doctor recommended he see Dr. John Marshall at Hamilton Health Sciences.  

Dr. Marshall PhotoKevin’s first appointment at the Digestive Diseases Clinic at Hamilton Health Sciences was a blessing. The staff were warm and welcoming and Kevin knew the moment that he started speaking with Dr. Marshall that he was in good hands.

The timing was perfect as his disease was at its worst. Having lost nearly 45 pounds, he had barely enough energy to walk up the stairs in his own home. Kevin was scared. 

In fact, Dr. Marshall looked at Kevin and said, "I don't think you realize how sick you really are." The medication was changed, a colonoscopy was undertaken and a plan was put in place. The colitis didn't settle down immediately. However, after a few months, he started seeing positive change.

Kevin started to go on the treadmill, even for just a few minutes at a time. One day, he watched the Ironman World Championships on NBC and was inspired by the many athletes who overcame their own physical challenges to compete in the grueling endurance event. Kevin said to himself, “one day I will do a triathlon.” 

"I started with the 5-km race that is part of the Around the Bay. I still have that medal and it's one I am most proud of because it was a symbol that this disease won't control my life," Kevin explained. 

From that humble race, he has competed in numerous 10 km and half-marathon races as well as sprint, Olympic and half-ironman (2-km swim, 90-km bike and 21-km run) triathlons.

"I am so thankful to my doctors and the entire team at the Digestive Diseases Clinic," said Kevin. 

"I've also had such wonderful support from family. I just hope I can be an inspiration to some of the patients who are suffering from this awful disease as well!"

Kevin will be competing in the Mont-Tremblant Ironman 70.3 on June 21, which features a 2-km swim, 90-km bike and a half-marathon, 21-km run. For more information, please visit: https://www.ironman.com/im703-mont-tremblant or https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T0nepzOPNCk&t=180s.

If you would like to support Kevin, and the other individuals (children and adults) that receive care at McMaster University Medical Centre for Crohn’s, colitis or inflammatory bowel disease, please consider making a donation below. Thank you.

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