Not many young people would be open about having an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). But Allie Shute, 11, wants you to know that Crohn’s Disease is simply a part of who she is. She’s upbeat “because that’s how I was before I had Crohn’s,” she says. “I like being happy.”
The sixth-grader at Jackson Creek Middle School in Bloomington, Ind., also likes crafts and performing in community and school musicals. “Nobody knows her as the girl with an IBD,” says her father Jason Shute. “They know her as Allie.”
She was diagnosed at age 8 but had been having trouble for a year or more — “as we look back, maybe even longer,” says her mother Michelle Qualley. Allie didn’t look ill, but when her stomach started hurting, her parents had to hurry home with her, which other people often didn’t understand. The family was just a few hours into their drive on a much-anticipated trip to Disney World when Allie’s symptoms acted up. Jason turned the car around.
That’s when Allie’s parents sought answers at Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Heatlh, and Riley Pediatric Gastroenterologist Shamaila Waseem, M.D. “First of all, she’s super nice,” Allie says of Dr. Waseem. “She helps by telling me what I don’t want to hear, but in the nicest way possible.”
Allie visits Riley every eight weeks to receive infusions of a drug that keeps her disease in remission. Dr. Waseem credits Allie for taking charge: “She’s a smart girl and has a great family,” the physician says. “They ask the right questions. Allie knows everything about her body, her disease and how it’s treated.”
Allie is a strong advocate for Riley and the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation. She also formed a small supportive network in Bloomington that brings kids with chronic conditions together for community service and other activities: “We do tons of fun stuff. And the parents get to talk, and they like that.”
Soon after her diagnosis, Allie sought out former Riley Champion Sneha Dave, now an Indiana University student who recently climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro despite her long battle with an IBD. Sneha nominated Allie for the Riley Champions program. “While Allie’s family is incredibly supportive,” Sneha says, “her desire to make a change comes from her genuine spirit.”
Click here to learn more about our Riley Champions program.