SCD helped this whole family, now the Woodward family foundation is committed to help finance more research and teach other families about the diet that changed their lives.
Mark Woodward and Gisele Serralles Woodward have an ordinary family; balancing work, hobbies, kids’ sports, school activities, volunteer boards among various other activities. However, back in October 2010, they were faced with the decision to fly their son Jack from where they live in Charleston, SC to Boston, MA for an Endoscopy and Colonoscopy at Mass General after severe abdominal symptoms. At the age of 7, he was originally diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis but a year later the diagnosis was changed to Crohn’s Disease. Jack had suffered gastrointestinal issues for years but until that set of tests, which clearly showed multiple areas of inflammation in his intestines, doctors were hesitant to saddle a child with a diagnosis of a lifelong illness such as Crohn’s. Crohn’s disease and Ulcerative Colitis cause inflammation, lesions, and abscesses in the digestive system. Together they are known as Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). These diseases can cause painful, incapacitating flare-ups, and are incurable.
At the time of Jack’s diagnosis, Mark and Gisele were already well-acquainted with the disease as Mark had been diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease in 1989 after undergoing emergency surgery. Then in February 2012, just 5 short months after Jack’s diagnosis of Crohn’s disease, their daughter Kristina, aged ten, was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis. Her symptoms had been milder, yet her intestinal inflammation and lesions were far more pronounced than those of Jack.
The traditional treatment for Crohn’s and Colitis is drug-heavy, involving anti-inflammatories, antibiotics, immune-suppressants and steroids, all at high doses. Each of these plays a part in reducing flare-ups of the disease. These are exceptionally strong medications and oftentimes children require additional prescriptions to minimize the side effects of their IBD medications. Who wouldn’t want to explore all options to minimize the threat of flares, especially for your children?
Knowing both kids and Mark had IBD, Gisele was ready to consider any sort of change that would minimize the risk of flares and keep the disease manageable without having to saddle her family with a litany of prescription medications. Their pediatric gastroenterologist, Dr. Ben Gold, from Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta suggested a diet that had helped other IBD patients in his practice. The Specific Carbohydrate Diet eliminates all complex carbohydrates, refined sugars and certain categories of dairy products. While this would be a truly dramatic change for the whole family, the Woodwards decided to give it a try.
Within six month, both Kristina and Jack were symptom-free. Three and a half years later, Kristina has been completely prescription-free since her diagnosis and Jack’s medications are limited to an anti-inflammatory medication. They have also grown taller and put on a weight, neither of which is ever taken for granted in kids with IBD. Thrilled with the results and armed with the knowledge that everyday decisions can make a difference, Gisele and Mark founded the Woodward Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation (WCCF) in the fall of 2012. The Foundation’s mission is to support research into non-pharmaceutical options, such as diet and lifestyle change, to help families manage IBD.
WCCF has run multiple successful fundraising events and campaigns; raising over $150,000 in three years. The Foundation is currently funding a multi-site medical research project that is studying how the Specific Carbohydrate diet changes the flora of the gastrointestinal tract as well as reduces the inflammation on the lining of the intestine. This medical research is currently been done by doctors at Children’s Hospital of Atlanta and at Seattle Children’s Hospital.
The creation of their Foundation has been extremely rewarding for the entire family. They continue to help and inspire many IBD patients and families throughout the US. They have pledged their commitment to funding medical research and bringing awareness of alternative therapy for IBD patients. For more information about their story, their events and goals, go to their website at www.woodwardccf.com.
For more information please contact:
Gisele Serralles Woodward
Co-Founder and Director
Woodward Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation
Co-Founder and Chairman of the Board
Woodward Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation