Gill Haran, 46, a former Hartlepool employee, was due to turn 25 when she was diagnosed with the condition in 2000.
It’s a chronic disorder in which sections of the digestive system become inflamed, resulting in diarrhoea, stomach pains, and exhaustion.
The diagnosis didn’t stop Gill from doing her job, and she claims that being sick herself made her a more compassionate nurse.
Gill spent 17 years with the NHS as a certified nurse.
However, her illness deteriorated to the point where she had to make the difficult decision to leave her much-loved work in 2013.
“All I ever wanted to be was a nurse and be the greatest nurse I could be to look after my patients,” Gill explained. “But in the end, I couldn’t do that because I was too ill myself.”
Gill, who worked as a Registered NHS Nurse in Birmingham, Nottingham, and Hartlepool, lost her sense of purpose after leaving her nursing career.
This all changed when she was chosen to accompany Matt Wood on his Kilimanjaro charity expedition.
Gill has been exercising frequently to develop her muscle strength in preparation for the September trip to Tanzania, which is conditional on pandemic restrictions relaxing, and she is not giving up despite overstretching a ligament and needing to wear a knee brace.
She stated, ” “It will provide me with a much-needed boost in self-esteem.
“Despite the ups and downs in my training, I’m not giving up. I know it’s not a full-time job, but I believe it will teach me that I can achieve things, that I can stick to a routine, that I can show up and be dependable, and that would mean the world to me because I hated letting my coworkers down.”
Gill, who is from the Belle Vue neighborhood of town, has had five major abdominal surgeries since her diagnosis, the most recent of which left her severely ill in a high-dependency unit.
“Gill” stated: “It’s the worst thing imaginable when Crohn’s disease is active.
“I suffered gut pain every time I ate or drank before my procedures, and it started with the first sip of water or mouthful of food.
“When it flared up, I would go to the bathroom at least 20 times a day.”
She went on to say about the planned trip: “It would mean the world to me to know that I went from requiring three people to assist me in walking three steps on a high dependency unit to climbing one of the world’s highest peaks.
“Climbing Kilimanjaro’s peak will show me that I am capable of great things.” It’s just that it might take me a little longer than most people, which isn’t always a negative thing.”