Ben is back to being himself.
Ben was just eight years old when he started having digestive troubles. It soon became clear to his parents that he was experiencing more than just a childhood stomach ache and fever. They took Ben to see his pediatrician, Dr. Lisa Nagler at Bronson Rambling Road Pediatrics in Oshtemo. She agreed his recurring symptoms signaled further testing was needed. And as a result, just as Ben was starting third grade, he and his family learned he had had Crohn’s disease, a chronic inflammatory bowel disease. “It’s so scary to be diagnosed with an illness like that,” says Ben’s mom Shelly, remembering what it was like to hear the news.
Knowing this was a lifelong diagnosis, the family set out to find the best treatment for Ben. They found their answer at Bronson Children’s Hospital, under the care of Dr. Russell Cameron. “He understood our fears from the beginning,” says Shelly. She explains that having a pediatric gastroenterologist who is open to listening, and who helps children understand their diagnosis is a critical part of the patient-doctor relationship. The family worked with Dr. Cameron and his team on a course of treatment that included both medicine and nutrition. Part of Ben’s treatment includes monthly infusions at the Bronson Infusion Center on the hospital campus.
“It’s super convenient to have a doctor right here in town when you are trying to move life at a normal pace,” says Shelly. That’s just the way Ben wants it too. “I’m just a normal kid,” Ben says, explaining that just because he has Crohn’s he doesn’t want special treatment. “There is nothing really different.” Now 14 years old, Ben takes part in an ever-expanding list of activities that includes rock-climbing, diving, baseball, skateboarding and mountain-biking. He also enjoys being part of a Crohn’s and Colitis support group at the hospital, which his mom helps to lead along with one of Bronson’s child life specialists. “She’s creative and can connect with the kids,” says Shelly, noting that the group gives children some comfort in knowing they aren’t alone. “It’s nice they are able to share positive experiences with other people.”
Ben’s mom uses Bronson MyChart to look back on his appointments and test results to see the progress he’s made and to look ahead to ongoing check-ups. Their focus now, with the help of Dr. Cameron, is making sure Ben’s treatment and diet are helping him grow. They are also making plans for a full life ahead for Ben, knowing his diagnosis doesn’t have to hold him back.
Learn more about Ben’s story and Bronson Children’s Hospital at bronsonpositivity.com/children.