As the City of White Rock prepares to welcome a return of the Canadian Snowbirds aerobatic team, a local man is sharing his story about living with Crohn’s disease.
Wednesday’s performance over Semiahmoo Bay is aimed at increasing awareness of the CH.I.L.D. Foundation, which strives to find a cure for inflammatory bowel disease and ulcerative colitis.
Eric Plastik was 13 when he was first diagnosed with Crohn’s, which can affect any part of the gastrointestinal tract.
Now 21, Plastik is encouraging others with the diagnosis to search for ways to manage the disease.
“Most people don’t know what it is. It’s not a romantic illness. They don’t make movies about Crohn’s,” he said.
“What I would really like people to do who have the illness is to take control back. They have more power over their health than they think they do.”
While Plastik currently keeps his Crohn’s under control – for the most part – with a proper diet, usually, the first step for doctors is to prescribe medication.
“For the first five years at Children’s Hospital, I was given all kinds of medication,” he said. “None of them ever did anything. At one point, they called in my parents because they thought they weren’t giving the pills to me. They didn’t think it was possible for me to be immune to all of them.”
Soon after, Plastik began looking at his diet and cutting out foods that cause flare ups.
“That’s been my real life saver, it’s been the one thing that’s kept me going,” he said, noting he had been told in the past by a dietician that diet didn’t affect Crohn’s.
“What I want people to know – and this is not me saying that doctors are evil or want to hurt you – but I feel too many people that go to the doctors with Crohn’s or something more drastic than a broken bone, they want to put it all on the doctor.
“But what I want people to know is that if you don’t take responsibility for your health, you’ll never know.”
And while Plastik admitted living with Crohn’s has been a difficult journey, he said the most useful – and hardest – lesson has been learning how to be happy in a terrible situation.
Even with medication and the right diet, the disease can flare up, he said.
“You feel like crap… Everything falls apart. But you need to learn how to be happy despite that,” he said.
“I wouldn’t have been here without people who love and support me. It’s cliché, but it’s cliché because it’s the truth. I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for them.”
Wednesday’s Snowbirds’ performance is set for 5:30 p.m., with pre-show activities to get underway at 3 p.m. and all proceeds from sponsors and commemorative T-shirt sales to benefit the CH.I.L.D. Foundation.
Spectators can also donate $10 by texting the world SNOWBIRD to 41010.
Boaters are reminded that the waters under the performance area will be closed to marine traffic from 3:30-7 p.m., with RCMP and other authorities monitoring for compliance.