Junior Renee Rose battles IBD Ulcerative Colitis

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Jessica Wyno, Reporter

Since her diagnosis and battle with inflammatory bowel disease, junior Renee Rose has developed a strength and quiet confidence. 

“Now I know nothing can really break me,” she said.

In September of 2020, Rose started experiencing health issues. She thought it was just the stomach flu, but when symptoms worsened, she set up a virtual visit with her pediatrician. After a day in the hospital and no help from medication, Rose was recommended to a GI (gastrointestinal) doctor. 

After a negative COVID test, Rose was admitted to the hospital. 

Turned out she did not have the stomach flu; Rose had IBD Ulcerative Colitis.

According to mayoclinic.org, IBD Ulcerative Colitis is an inflammatory bowel disease that causes inflammation and sores on the digestive tract. This can lead to extreme abdominal pain, weight loss, heavy fatigue, and long-term health problems if not addressed quickly. 

To make things worse, at the same time Rose had these stomach issues, she was diagnosed with anemia. She had a colonoscopy and an MRI for the IBD and was in the hospital for about two weeks.

Rose is an active person and enjoys eating a wide variety of vegetables, ones not usually found on the plate of a teenager. So IBD really threw her life for a loop. She could no longer eat seedy foods, nuts, broccoli, cauliflower, or the raw vegetables she used to enjoy. 

During her hospital stay, Rose had an exploratory process with the meals she was given. She would write up food reviews of each dish for her Snapchat story, keeping her friends in the loop. 

Not only was her diet affected by the IBD, but Rose was also unable to play soccer, a sport she loved and had played since she was 6 years old. 

Lady Rockets celebrate. (photo courtesy of Cheryl Richards)

Rose’s teammates and friends, junior Ella Deevers and sophomore Heidi Timmons, were alarmed to find out about her disease. 

“We were really scared for her because she just, like, disappeared,” Deevers said, reflecting on Rose’s absence from school before her disease was identified. 

Deevers and Rose have been friends since the fourth grade. The majority of their classes are the same, and they have played soccer on the same team for years. This made it extra hard for Deevers to adjust to Rose being out of school and sports for so many weeks.

Rose’s main form of communication with her friends during this time was through text messages and Snapchat. Not being able to visit Rose in the hospital (due to COVID), was hard on her friends and teammates. They knew, however, that the experience was hundreds of times harder for Rose herself. So Timmons, along with other soccer teammates, sophomores Alyssa Schofield and Kelsey Rich, came up with the idea for the entire team to surprise Rose with cards after her hospital stay. 

Rose said she was touched to see her friends again and to receive such support.

Aside from her return to school and catching up on piles of work, Rose’s return to the soccer field was most memorable. It had been doubtful that she would be able to get back to playing, given that extensive physical activity could prove dangerous, yet Rose pulled through. 

Teammates were overwhelmingly happy for Rose, as at her first game back, the crowd erupted in cheers when they saw her walk onto the field. 

“It was insane! The second she went into sub someone out, we were all going so crazy,” recalled Timmons. 

While the crowd and all her teammates were overjoyed to see her, Rose was also happy to finally be back.

After returning in time to finish her junior season, Rose currently plays club soccer. She said she is excited to play her senior season as well. 

Other than having to get an IV infusion of Remicade every two months (to keep the disease under control), and having the occasional blood draw for labs, Rose’s life has returned to normal. 

Rose said she believes since this life-altering event happened so early in her life, she will now have the “unbreakable” strength to make it through any future roadblocks.