In August 2009, nine months after I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, I took part in The Underwear Affair, a 10-kilomtre fundraising run in support of North York General Hospital’s efforts to treat cancers below the waist. As the name suggests, runners completed the course along the east end of Toronto’s waterfront wearing only their underwear.
I ran in a sleeveless white shirt and black boxer briefs. My friend Marliese, who also participated in the event, took that photo of me with the inspect-her-gadget team after the race, which I finished in roughly 45 minutes. I can’t remember how much money I raised for the event, but it was more than I had hoped to. As important as the fundraising element was, I really wanted to participate in The Underwear Affair for the sake of doing something unique. Something that I could look back on proudly and say, “Yeah, I did that.”
I had no fears about competing in the event. No fear of showing my body. No fear of straining my body. No fear of not being able to complete the race. No fear of having to find a toilet somewhere along the course. No fear of something going wrong in the lead up to the race that would force me to sit it out. I was taking Asacol pills, my UC was in control, and I felt like my normal self – the same self that ran with joy before ever hearing the acronym IBD.
While underwear-themed races have continued in several Canadian cities since 2009, I believe that was the last year such an event was staged in Toronto. I guess the sight of so much of my bare skin forced organizers to pull the plug. Because of UC, and the surgeries I’ve had as a result of it, I have not competed in an organized race – underwear affair or otherwise – since 2009. My body has rarely been up for it, and on the rare occasions when it felt better, I would fear all the things I didn’t before, and choose not to sign up. I managed to run an untimed 10-kilometre route for the Terry Fox Run in 2012, and I walked the same route with my girlfriend, Jayee, in 2013.
On Sunday, June 8, I will be taking part in the Gutsy Walk, in support of Crohn’s and Colitis Canada. It’s not a 10K run but a 5K walk, and for someone still recovering from two surgeries, adjusting to an ileostomy closure and new pelvic pouch, and building himself back up, it’s something doable. Plus, the money raised by the event goes towards IBD research and awareness. If you’ve read any other post on this blog, you’ll know how important that is to me.
I don’t want anyone else to lose his or her colon. I don’t want anyone else to have to go to the bathroom 30 times a day. I don’t want anyone else to have his or her life devastated by an indiscriminate illness. But as is so often the case when people pledge to prevent others from suffering like them, people will suffer like them. People will have their colons sliced out of their abdomens. People will have to go to the bathroom 30 times a day. People will have their lives devastated.
That’s why those people, and I, need your help.
Please head over to my fundraising page and make a donation. Any amount is welcome and greatly appreciated. You’ll be helping people who live yet struggle with IBDs, and contributing to the ongoing efforts to learn more about the disease, discover new and better treatments, and hopefully someday, find a cure or preventative tactic.
I’d like to think that this walk will be a precursor to me competing in running events again, just as the funds raised from it will be a precursor to people suffering from IBDs living better lives again.
Rest assured, I won’t be walking in my underwear.
Unless you want me to.