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Ulcerative Colitis Warrior

Gaby DuFour Goes with Her Gut

Gaby DuFour grew up playing sports. Exercise and healthy eating are key parts of her life, as is inspiring others through social media. When you see her lifting weights or cooking, you’d never guess that she’s living with ulcerative colitis, an inflammatory bowel disease.

“I look like a healthy 25-year-old, but my insides disagree,” she says.

Gaby was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis in September 2017 when she began experiencing abdominal cramps and digestion issues while training for her first marathon. After Gaby's first flare-up, she met with the dedicated gastroenterology team at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, who worked with her to find effective treatment options.

It wasn’t easy at first. Gaby's symptoms worsened. Gastroenterologist Emanuelle A. Bellaguarda, Northwestern Memorial Hospital, admitted Gaby to Northwestern Memorial Hospital and worked tirelessly with the gastroenterology team to find the frequency and dosage of a medication to help Gaby feel better.

“I had the best care,” says Gaby. “Dr. Bellaguarda frequently came to visit me while I was sick. My nurses inspired me to pursue a career in health care and even provided me with resources to get started.”

Gaby Gives Back

That was the moment that Gaby began a new leg in her journey with ulcerative colitis.

“I applied to be a volunteer to give back because of the amazing care I received at Northwestern Memorial Hospital,” says Gaby. “I spend most of my time restocking supplies, organizing equipment and signage, visiting with patients, and straightening up their rooms. I feel incredibly lucky to work alongside the people who took such good care of me when I was sick.”

Gaby also pays it forward with an Instagram account dedicated to uniting people with inflammatory bowel diseases, and inspiring her followers with fitness and health tips. In an age when everyone is trying to seem happy or look good, she’s transparent and raw, sharing the ups and downs of living with a chronic gastrointestinal illness.

“After I was in the hospital, I realized that no one really knows what it’s like to live with an invisible illness until they have one themselves,” she says. “My goal is to help other people with inflammatory bowel or autoimmune diseases realize that they’re not alone.”

What’s Next For Gaby?

Apart from her direct medical treatment, Gaby has found diet and exercise vital to managing ulcerative colitis. She took over Northwestern Medicine’s Instagram account for a month in order to share heath, wellness and fitness tips.

Here are the highlights:

“When I was admitted to my room at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, I experienced no anxiety. It felt right. As my physicians and nurses explained how the medicine was working to get my symptoms under control, I started thinking, ‘Why don't I learn about this stuff in depth to care for someone like me?’” she says. “I’m working on my healthcare prerequisites and know I’ll find my place in medicine soon.”

Follow Gaby on Instagram and learn more about inflammatory bowel diseases.

The Inflammatory Bowel Disease Program

Featured Experts

Emanuelle A. Bellaguarda, MD
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