Ashley Clark is one of 10 recipients across Canada to be awarded an AbbVie IBD Scholarship by Crohn’s and Colitis Canada.

Campbell River student wins scholarship from Crohn’s and Colitis Canada

Ashley Clark plan to continue studies to help other chronic disease patients

Ashley Clark is using her own experience with Crohn’s disease as background for her studies.

She is currently in the midst of her master’s degree at the University of Victoria in the social dimensions of health program.

To help her with this, she received word this summer that she is one of 10 recipients across Canada of a AbbVie IBD Scholarship by Crohn’s and Colitis Canada. The scholarship supports students, recognizing them for academic excellence as well as overcoming the difficulties caused by inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

“I’m actually studying the quality of life of IBD patients,” she says.

Clark has volunteered with Crohn’s and Colitis Canada, the BC Children’s Hospital and Social Health Lab. For the scholarship, she had to write a short essay of 500 words about her experiences and her involvement to help others, as well as submit two references. She submitted in June and found out in July that she was among the 10 winners out of 370 that applied for the scholarship.

“I had just dropped my boyfriend off at the airport and was driving and saw Crohn’s and Colitis Canada come up on my caller ID,” she says. “I couldn’t answer, so I pulled into the nearest gas station, and I was, like, shaking because I know that that’s a competitive scholarship.”

“I had just dropped my boyfriend off at the airport and was driving and saw Crohn’s and Colitis Canada come up on my caller ID,” she says. “I couldn’t answer, so I pulled into the nearest gas station, and I was, like, shaking because I know that that’s a competitive scholarship.”

She says her mom recalls taking her to the doctor when she was a baby, but the diagnosis came later. Now 25, she was first diagnosed when she was 19 after starting to meet with a gastroenterologist. She opted for surgery after a series of medications failed to manage symptoms.

There are many misconceptions, she says, around Crohn’s disease.

“Stomach issues, they can be overlooked easily and also they’re symptoms of so many things,” she says.

Some think it is associated with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Others assume it must have something to do with diet, like Celiac disease. However, it is an auto-immune disease that attacks the intestines. The treatment she gets reverses these attacks but, in turn, can negatively affect a person’s immune system.

“Your immune systems is actually mistaking your digestive tract … it starts attacking it,” she says.

She takes a biological therapy, having started with intravenous infusion but switched to self-injection. Again, there are misconceptions around to treat the disease.

“You can’t really, really control IBD with diet,” she says, though you can manage symptoms. “You have to eat things that are easy to digest.”

This last year, Clark had to put work and studies on hold as she went to St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver for surgery. She came back to Campbell River to stay with her mother to recuperate but developed some complications and spent close to two months in the local hospital. She is quick to compliment the local doctors and nurses.

“I had an amazing experience there,” she says. “They’re so caring and they’re so personable. My doctor and my surgeon and my nurses all made me feel like I was the only patient that they had every day…. When I left, I actually missed them.”

The one side effect of the recent treatment on her outside life was, of course, that she still has to do another couple of semesters at school to finish her master’s – meaning the scholarship will provide her with some extra support to finish off her degree. The recent health issues set her back a year, but Clark hopes to be finished in April and she is also planning to do another master’s of counselling, so she can help chronic disease patients.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Another modular unit is lifted into place on the second floor of the new supportive housing complex being built at 580 Dogwood Street on Thursday this past week. Photo by Cleo Corbett/City of Campbell River
Campbell River’s newest supportive housing facility rises on Dogwood Street

Pre-fab modular construction means the building can go on the foundation in under five days

RCMP remind people to lock their doors after dark. Black Press file photo.
RCMP seeing jump in property crime and unlocked vehicles

Drivers also cautioned to stay aware of changing road conditions

The Campbell River branch of the Vancouver Island Regional Library is scheduled for demolition in 2021 to make way for a new $14-million library facility. File photo by Mike Davies/Campbell River Mirror
Mayor of Campbell River addresses concerns surrounding new library funding

‘This $14 million is the Vancouver Island Regional Library board’s money,’ mayor says

Environment Canada has issued a snowfall advisory for parts of Vancouver Island for Thursday and Friday.(File photo)
Snowfall expected in parts of Vancouver Island

Environment Canada has issued a snowfall advisory for north, east and inland Vancouver Island this week

B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry gives a daily briefing on COVID-19 cases at an almost empty B.C. Legislature press theatre in Victoria, B.C., on March 25, 2020. (Don Craig/B.C. government)
B.C. sees 223 new COVID-19 cases, now 2,009 active

Two new care home outbreaks in Surrey, Burnaby

BC Liberals Leader Andrew Wilkinson, BC Greens Sonia Furstenau, BC NDP John Horgan (The Canadian Press photos)
British Columbians vote in snap election called during COVID-19 pandemic

At dissolution, the NDP and Liberals were tied with 41 seats in the legislature, while the Greens held two seats

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

100 Mile Conservation officer Joel Kline gingerly holds an injured but very much alive bald eagle after extracting him from a motorist’s minivan. (Photo submitted)
B.C. driver thought he retrieved a dead bald eagle – until it came to life in his backseat

The driver believed the bird to be dead and not unconscious as it turned out to be

Chastity Davis-Alphonse took the time to vote on Oct. 21. B.C’s general Election Day is Saturday, Oct. 24. (Chastity Davis-Alphonse Facebook photo)
B.C. reconciliation advocate encourages Indigenous women to vote in provincial election

Through the power of voice and education Chastity Davis-Alphonse is hopeful for change

White Rock RCMP Staff Sgt. Kale Pauls has released a report on mental health and policing in the city. (File photos)
White Rock’s top cop wants to bill local health authority for lengthy mental-health calls

‘Suggestion’ included in nine-page review calling for ‘robust’ support for healthcare-led response

A Le Chateau retail store is shown in Montreal on Wednesday July 13, 2016. Le Chateau Inc. says it is seeking court protection from creditors under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act to allow it to liquidate its assets and wind down its operations.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Clothing retailer Le Chateau plans to close its doors, files for CCAA protection

Le Chateau said it intends to remain fully operational as it liquidates its 123 stores

Most Read