Many people find it difficult to exercise with any regularity. I have no doubt exercise is the most common New Year’s resolution many of us make. However, imagine if you exercised for a serious and great cause. Could you see yourself committing months and months of training only to culminate in a 12+ hours Ironman Triathlon which includes a full 26.2 mile marathon, a 2.4 mile swim, and 116 mile bike ride? Few people can compete in this extreme sport, but I have every confidence that Deedee Karanian, one of our Certified Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA), will be successful on Sept 27, 2015. I also know that with the help of family, friends, and many others, each of us can make a difference for this worthy cause.
Deedee will be competing in the Ironman Triathlon in Chattanooga, Tennessee with Team Challenge. She chose it as a vehicle to raise money and awareness for the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA) for research and to find a cure. These diseases are autoimmune diseases that can affect patients in devastating ways. Today there is no cure. This cause is near and dear to her as one of her close family members is impacted by the disease which can be physically and mentally debilitating as well as financially challenging for patients and their families. Today over 1.6 million people have irritable bowel disease. According to the Foundation; “Crohn’s disease belongs to a group of conditions known as Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (IBD). Crohn’s disease is a chronic inflammatory condition of the gastrointestinal tract. Crohn’s most commonly affects the end of the small bowel and the beginning of the colon, but it may affect any part of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, from the mouth to the anus. Ulcerative colitis is limited to the colon, also called the large intestine. Ulcerative colitis is a chronic disease of the large intestine, also known as the colon, in which the lining of the colon becomes inflamed and develops tiny open sores, or ulcers, that produce pus and mucous. The combination of inflammation and ulceration can cause abdominal discomfort and frequent emptying of the colon. Ulcerative colitis is the result of an abnormal response by your body’s immune system. Normally, the cells and proteins that make up the immune system protect you from infection. In people with IBD, however, the immune system mistakes food, bacteria, and other materials in the intestine for foreign or invading substances. When this happens, the body sends white blood cells into the lining of the intestines, where they produce chronic inflammation and ulcerations.”
Deedee shared that in her role as a Certified Nurse Anesthetist in the operating room she has seen firsthand how well these patients are cared for at Chippenham & Johnston-Willis Hospitals by the team of surgeons, specialist, anesthesia providers, and operating room staff. These patients suffer from inflammation and pain from their disease and the hospital care teams’ goal is to give the patients control of their life by reducing pain and minimizing the symptoms and exacerbation that often flare up. The Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation is not just looking to find a way to treat these patients, but more importantly, ways to cure them. Significant advances have been made in recent years. Through her work and her personal life she knows the importance of raising funds and advocate for these patients to give them a stronger voice for research.
Last year, Team Challenge (nationally based) had the largest number of charity racers for any Ironman event and rose over $1.33M from 200 racers. From these funds, $0.82 of every dollar goes straight to research and education. The great news is that the Federal government matches each dollar with eight dollars of funding through the National Institute for Health. This exceptional match is done because of the highly promising and successful research done to-date and the sheer number of people suffering across the country.
The latest research is heavily focused on the genetics initiative. They have already found five genetic pathways so they can further isolate and treat the cause and not just the symptoms. These efforts have brought us new medication options and one has already been shown to be safe in humans.
Deedee has launched her fund raising campaign and needs all the help she can get to exceed her goal of $5,000. A little bit goes such a long way. To make an online donation click: http://online.ccfa.org/goto/dkaranian. She has worked at CJW for over 15 years and lives in Powhatan, VA with her husband, John Karanian, a family law attorney with Barnes & Diehl, and their 2 sons, Zack (11) and William (10). This will be her first Triathlon, however it builds off her successful completion of four marathons (NY, Shamrock, Richmond, and Big Sur), and three ½ marathons. She left me with a final thought, “Less than 1% of the population will finish an Ironman; however on race day I will race for 1.6 million people! That is a great feeling!”
If you would like to learn more how you can get involved in the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America you can go to www.ccfa.org.