Sunday, June 24, is going to be a big day for Dewey Thom and his CCFA Team Challenge running mates on the Big Island, Hawaii. This is the day Team Challenge competes in the Kona Half Marathon to raise funds for the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA).
It’s also a memorable day for Medivo’s GI Monitor, which has signed on as a Team Challenge sponsor for the 2012 season. The Kona 13.1-mile race is the kickoff of this new sponsorship. Dewey and the CCFA National Team have a “GI Monitor by Medivo” logo on their race-day singlet and on their National Team shirts.
For the Kona race, Thom will be playing an important mentoring role for new Team Challenge participants (he’s sidelined by an Achilles injury that may or may not be related to his IBD treatment, he says). The new Team Challenge runners are either fellow sufferers, those who have loved ones affected by IBD or just people “who are simply interested in completing a half marathon while helping the CCFA in its mission,” Thom says.
Thom, 49, completed his first half marathon for Team Challenge in July 2008 in Napa, California, and he’s taken part in seven events as a Team Challenge member.
Team Challenge is CCFA’s endurance training and fundraising program, and helps interested athletes train to run in distance running events, triathlons and even cycling events. The goal is to raise funds to support the effort to find a cure for Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, two chronic and often debilitating digestive diseases that impact 1.4 million Americans.
Providing balance in social media
Thom says he became aware of GI Monitor from an advertisement for apps and then downloaded it to his mobile phone. Awhile later in September 2011, he began using the app to track his symptoms before ultimately finding the socialization feature of the app – a feature that has now become part of his daily routine. The GI Monitor app also makes it much easier to track symptoms and prepare for doctor visits, he says.
He also finds great utility in the social aspect of GI Monitor, which he says has established a worldwide user community with new members joining, especially newly diagnosed and those sufferers battling flares or recovering from surgery.
“In terms of medical communities, the online support group is virtually 24-7,” he says. “There are people from the U.K., Australia, and the West Coast [among other places] who you can follow around the clock.”
He adds, “If you are having trouble, you can get on the app and say this is happening, and get a response.”
Thom says he comments “on a lot of discussion threads,” mainly because he wants to provide balance and insight to these discussion among patients. One of his goals is to provide support for the newly diagnosed and to help them “self-educate” by directing them to new resources.
“What I will tend to do is when someone says, ‘My doctor mentioned Remicade,’ I try to provide a balanced and calming view. The nature of IBD is that it’s highly idiosyncratic,” he notes. “What may not work for you, may work for another person.”
Thom was diagnosed with IBD about 30 years ago, and has lived more than two-thirds of his life battling the symptoms (and without his colon). He says his condition has improved over the past year (no hospital visits this year) after he added a new med to supplement the advanced biologic he takes weekly since that “alone was not doing the trick.”