Welcome If you are visiting this section of our website today, you have undoubtedly been affected by Crohn’s Disease, or know someone who has been diagnosed with the debilitating condition. Crohn’s sufferers are not alone. The bowel disease that causes painful inflammation of the lining of the digestive system currently affects more than 700,000 Americans.
The good news is, strides are being made every day in relation to the diagnosis and treatment of Crohn’s Disease. There are more medications available than there were just a few years ago, and there are certainly more options. As Matt Light would say, the “ best defense is an offense” when it comes to Crohn’s. Arm yourself with knowledge – knowledge about the disease, suggested diets that may help reduce symptoms, and the different available treatments. If you are in need of resources, a good place to start is the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation. Visit their website at www.ccfa.org. They will provide you with a great deal of information if you have Crohn’s, and a network of doctors and specialists to consult if you think you or someone you know may have the disease. Early diagnosis is key. Crohn’s can be a difficult disease to live with, but a positive attitude helps, and it shouldn’t limit your goals.
Now here’s Matt’s story.
During his 11-year football career as an offensive lineman for the New England Patriots, Matt Light endured some pretty physical thrashings, week after week on the field. After all – the role of left tackle is one of the most physical positions in the game. Imagine, in addition playing through that pain, having to suffer through internal pain, as well. During nearly every day of his professional football career, Light struggled to overcome both hurdles – due to his ongoing battle with Crohn’s Disease.
At just 35 years old, Matt Light has undergone more than a dozen surgeries, the majority of which were Chrohn’s-related. In June of 2004, he had 13 inches of his large intestine removed and nearly lost his life due to complications. During what turned into a tenuous 30-day hospital stay, his wife Susie presented him with his first Super Bowl ring because he couldn’t make it to Patriot owner Robert Kraft’s house for the celebration. When he was released from the hospital, the New England Patriots signed him to a six-year deal. He only missed the first two weeks of training camp that August, and during his ensuing career -- set records for his high number of consecutive games as a starter.
Keeping his diagnosis under wraps was important to Light at the time -- because he didn’t want anyone to use it as a crutch for why he made a mistake in a game. He also made tough decisions – not undergoing certain treatments to manage the disease for fear it would impact his play. It’s not a road he suggests anyone else take. He has said since that it was very important to him that his medical issues weren’t a tagline to his overall style of play or what he did and didn't do. Although he struggled privately with his illness almost every day, he always brought 100% to the football field. His 5 Super Bowl appearances, 3 Super Bowl wins, and 3 Pro Bowl appearances are evidence of his sense of commitment. When Light walked away from the game in May, 2012, after some say was his best season with the Patriots, he says he did so -- in part – to concentrate on his health.
On top of being one of the most popular Patriots players in recent history, Light was, and still is, a successful philanthropist. He started the Light Foundation in 2001 to help at-risk youth succeed and encourage them to follow the right path in life. He’s put a considerable amount of work into building, funding and sustaining the nonprofit – which has become one of the most successful athlete-inspired charities around. One would have expected Light to have rested and recovered during his off-seasons, but there he was -- out in the woods of Ohio – helping to construct his outdoor leadership camp, creating the infrastructure for his 400-plus acre Chenoweth Trails facility, and working with kids from all over the country in for almost two weeks every summer. He says his passion for helping others is what’s motivating him to step forward and tell the story of how he has coped, and continues to cope -- with Crohn’s disease.
Light has now teamed up with the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA) and is working hard to help others understand the disease that no one wants to talk about. "Staying positive and knowing that, 'This is just what it is' and you have to push through it…I think that helped strengthen me to the point I am at today,” said Light. He maintains that he’s not going to let his ailment slow him down and strongly encourages others to do educate themselves about Crohn’s, and how they can work towards getting healthy.
Seeing all that Matt Light has accomplished while battling such a chronic disease is truly inspiring. He can offer a great message to everyone going through the same thing, and is not afraid to talk about is experience, and where his journey has taken him.
If you’d like to contact Matt Light about a Crohn’s-related fundraiser, event opportunity, a motivational message, or have questions about how he’s coping with the disease, please connect with us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.