Ambassador Q&A with Melissa Lord
Melissa Lord was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease at 18 and endured around 10 years of treatment for her symptoms, in and out of hospital. Her disease escalated towards the middle of 2009 and the outcome meant she needed major surgery to create a permanent ileostomy. As challenging as this decision was to make, Mel had tremendous support from her family, friends and clinical team and has no regrets.
In the twelve years since surgery Mel has worked hard to live fearless. She achieved a massive life goal by travelling overseas in 2018 to trek El Camino in Spain. Having never travelled to Europe before, she joined her Crohn's & Colitis Australia team mates to walk over 100kms! An adventure she'll never forget, Mel continued to share her experiences in the hope of raising awareness and helping people who find themselves struggling with IBD and the prospect of surgery. Mel has spoken at forums for CCA and she was very proud to mentor at the CCA Youth Camp Fearless in 2019.
Why are you taking part in the Live Fearless Challenge?
I believe in the vision and purpose of this challenge, to make life more liveable for IBD sufferers. I am proud to be back as an ambassador this year and I absolutely LOVE the ideas and feelings that come to mind when I say that I want to 'Live Fearless'. Living with IBD can create fear and anxiety, among many other feelings, about day-to-day things that others do without thinking. While fear still drives some of my choices and that probably won't ever truly fade - I want to show others how amazing living life with IBD can be.
I want to do my part to keep improving what the future looks like for IBD patients. PLUS, my team are a pretty special group of people and we take pride in smashing out those kilometres and raising funds for IBD research.
How do you stay motivated to keep exercising?
To be honest, some days are much easier than others to get up and out of bed, or to get active after work! Especially during the cooler months. I'm not the most disciplined person, but I know how good I feel after exercising, and every time, it's, So. Worth. The. Effort. When I was sick, exercise was never something I had the energy to do. It always seemed way out of reach. Now I can join in, I can take part and I can do it. I'm not a natural runner or gym goer, but I put those headphones on, pump some tunes and give it my best.
So, I guess you could say, the buzz keeps me motivated. I also have a great group of friends who love to get together and go for a walk or a jog. We do fun runs together and have done for the last few years. We often make a weekend of it, staying close to the race precinct, doing the event, then going for a big breakfast afterwards. Running for the carbs afterwards is also a big motivator! One of the most rewarding things about doing these events is supporting each other, no one ever gets left behind - and of course crossing that line - and feeling like you've achieved something. Doesn't matter how fast you are going!
What inspires you?
Seeing others achieve their goals, while also setting and achieving my own. Being well, and keeping well is a great source of inspiration for me. I'm grateful that I can participate in fun runs and commit to month-long events like the Live Fearless Challenge - the people and teams that take part are absolute superstars, it's hard not to be inspired by them.
As part of the IBD community, what are you most proud of?
There are so many reasons that I'm proud to be part of the IBD community. It took a long time for me to realise it was okay to talk about my experiences with Crohn's disease and the impact it had on my life. I've come a long way and I am proud to have built up the courage to start conversations, speak publicly, have a laugh about my 'relationship with poo', and to have mentored young patients. I'm proud of the positive influence I've had on people around me, the people who reach out to me for advice and for helping to raise awareness for all of us - our families and even our practitioners.
I'm also proud of the friendships I've made and the people I've met on this journey, without IBD I probably would never have had the opportunity to meet these incredible people and I'm a better person because of them.
Do you have a message for your fellow Live Fearless Challenge participants?
I just want to say thank you! Thank you to everyone who has registered, everyone who spreads the word, wears their Live Fearless merch fearlessly and for committing to run, walk, ride, swim or skate your way to 150km this September. You're all champions, just for signing up - now, LET's DO THIS!
Oh, and keep an eye out for team Fast & Fearless we're on a mission this year!