Daniel Island Family Aims To Help Ease Pain of Debilitating Illness

January 31, 2013

Mark, Jack, Gisele & Kristina Woodward. Photo courtesy of The Daniel Island News.

If you knew there was a way to help ease the suffering of those dealing with the pain of a life-limiting illness, would you do it? For Daniel Island residents Gisele and Mark Woodward, who moved to Daniel Island from the Northeast six years ago, the answer was an easy “yes.”

Mark has long coped with the debilitating symptoms associated with Crohn’s Disease. In 2011 the couple learned their son, Jack, also had the condition, and their daughter, Kristina, had Ulcerative Colitis. These conditions, known collectively as Irritable Bowel Disease (IBD), cause inflammation, lesions and abscesses in the digestive system. They are incurable and can be painful and incapacitating during flares.

Eager to explore non-pharmaceutical treatments for the diseases, Mark and Gisele were intrigued to learn of a “back to basics” diet recommended by their children’s Atlanta-based physician. They didn’t hesitate to give it a try.

“I’ve always been open to diets,” said Gisele. “We were ready to consider any sort of change that would minimize the risk of flares and keep the disease manageable.”

The “Special Carbohydrate Diet,” which requires patients to eliminate all complex carbohydrates, refined sugars, and certain categories of dairy products from their diet, led to an almost immediate improvement in symptoms for Mark, Jack and Kristina.

“Thanks to the diet, Kristina and Jack no longer need to take prescriptions to manage their conditions,” said Gisele. “And most importantly, they are no longer in pain. As a parent, there is no greater feeling than knowing your children are not suffering.”

The Woodward family’s response to the diet has been so impressive that they decided they could use their story to help even more IBD sufferers. They formed the Woodward Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation (WCCF) in 2012 to support non-pharmaceutical options for keeping IBD symptoms under control.

“By understanding your body and managing your symptoms, you can live a full and rewarding life,” says Gisele. “We think you can do it by eating right! And we’re out to fund research to prove it!”

Through a partnership with the Children’s Hospital of Atlanta, the WCCF is helping to raise money for multi-site clinical trials for the diet that has helped their family – and so many others – find relief from the pain of IBD. Their immediate goal is to raise the remaining $250,000 needed to fund these trials. Their first fundraiser will be a Glow Golf event and party on March 9 at the Daniel Island Club, with all proceeds benefiting their Foundation’s cause.

For information on the Glow Golf and Party event at the Daniel Island Club, or to find out more about the Woodward Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation, please visit www.woodwardccf.org.