What Worked for Me: Musician Amber Woodhouse’s Journey with Crohn’s Disease
Posted: September 20, 2021 | Word Count: 1,580
When Amber Woodhouse was first diagnosed with moderate to severe Crohn’s disease – an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) – her whole life came into perspective. “As a child, I would have days where I would wake up before school and could not stop vomiting,” Amber says. “But back then, I thought I just had food poisoning. Even if I tried to take a step, I felt a shooting pain all the way to my stomach – it was awful, and I just kept hoping it would go away.”
Unfortunately, despite Amber’s desire for her illness to subside, it didn’t. In fact, she continued to experience symptoms well into adulthood. On a number of occasions, she recalls strategically waiting for guitar solos as an opportunity to run to the restroom. Amber offers, “In my mind, I said ‘OK, when the guitar comes up, I'm going to get off stage, I'm going to throw up and then I’m going to pull it together.’ The show must go on right?”
It wasn’t until Amber’s performance at Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival – which she attributes as a high point in her career – that she really understood how serious the symptoms had become. “Less than 12 hours after my performance, I was back in the hospital,” Amber explains.
Stories like Amber’s aren’t uncommon. In fact, Crohn’s disease is estimated to impact as many as 780,000 Americans.[i] However, it’s the stigma that Amber feels most strongly about overcoming, underscoring that having a community of doctors and patients by her side allowed her to embrace her disease.
“People often look at social media as a detriment to mental health, but it actually helped me to find a community. I searched Crohn’s disease hashtags and found other influencers who were willing to build my confidence.” Amber also notes that having a care team behind her who understood her disease was critical to ensuring that she was getting the proper care. Particularly as a woman of color, Amber emphasizes one piece of advice for patients suffering with Crohn’s disease: “Stay knowledgeable and be your biggest advocate.”
Amber tried a couple of treatments that didn’t work for her. After talking with her doctor about the risks and benefits, Amber started taking HUMIRA® (adalimumab). HUMIRA is a prescription medicine used for the treatment of moderate to severe Crohn’s disease in adults and children 6 years of age and older.[ii] Now, Amber is considered to be in remission, “I just feel so empowered because I’m on a treatment plan that has reduced my symptoms, allowing me to do many of the things I want to do. I'm overjoyed,” she says.
For more information about a treatment option, visit HUMIRA.com. HUMIRA is a biologic that blocks a source of inflammation that may be contributing to symptoms of Crohn’s disease. HUMIRA is not right for everyone. Only your doctor can decide if HUMIRA is right for you. Individual results may vary.
Please click for Full Prescribing information including Medication Guide.
HUMIRA is a prescription medicine used to treat moderate to severe Crohn’s disease (CD) in adults and children 6 years of age and older.
Important Safety Information About HUMIRA® (adalimumab)
What is the most important information I should know about HUMIRA?
You should discuss the potential benefits and risks of HUMIRA with your doctor. HUMIRA is a TNF blocker medicine that can lower the ability of your immune system to fight infections. You should not start taking HUMIRA if you have any kind of infection unless your doctor says it is okay.
- Serious infections have happened in people taking HUMIRA. These serious infections include tuberculosis (TB) and infections caused by viruses, fungi, or bacteria that have spread throughout the body. Some people have died from these infections. Your doctor should test you for TB before starting HUMIRA, and check you closely for signs and symptoms of TB during treatment with HUMIRA, even if your TB test was negative. If your doctor feels you are at risk, you may be treated with medicine for TB.
- Cancer. For children and adults taking TNF blockers, including HUMIRA, the chance of getting lymphoma or other cancers may increase. There have been cases of unusual cancers in children, teenagers, and young adults using TNF blockers. Some people have developed a rare type of cancer called hepatosplenic T-cell lymphoma. This type of cancer often results in death. If using TNF blockers including HUMIRA, your chance of getting two types of skin cancer (basal cell and squamous cell) may increase. These types are generally not life-threatening if treated; tell your doctor if you have a bump or open sore that doesn’t heal.
What should I tell my doctor BEFORE starting HUMIRA?
Tell your doctor about all of your health conditions, including if you:
- Have an infection, are being treated for infection, or have symptoms of an infection
- Get a lot of infections or infections that keep coming back
- Have diabetes
- Have TB or have been in close contact with someone with TB, or were born in, lived in, or traveled where there is more risk for getting TB
- Live or have lived in an area (such as the Ohio and Mississippi River valleys) where there is an increased risk for getting certain kinds of fungal infections, such as histoplasmosis, coccidioidomycosis, or blastomycosis. These infections may happen or become more severe if you use HUMIRA. Ask your doctor if you are unsure if you have lived in these areas
Have or have had hepatitis B • Are scheduled for major surgery • Have or have had cancer • Have numbness or tingling or a nervous system disease such as multiple sclerosis or Guillain-Barré syndrome • Have or had heart failure • Have recently received or are scheduled to receive a vaccine. HUMIRA patients may receive vaccines, except for live vaccines. Children should be brought up to date on all vaccines before starting HUMIRA • Are allergic to rubber, latex, or any HUMIRA ingredients • Are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, breastfeeding, or planning to breastfeed • Have a baby and you were using HUMIRA during your pregnancy. Tell your baby’s doctor before your baby receives any vaccines
Also tell your doctor about all the medicines you take. You should not take HUMIRA with ORENCIA® (abatacept), KINERET® (anakinra), REMICADE® (infliximab), ENBREL® (etanercept), CIMZIA® (certolizumab pegol), or SIMPONI® (golimumab). Tell your doctor if you have ever used RITUXAN® (rituximab), IMURAN® (azathioprine), or PURINETHOL® (mercaptopurine, 6-MP).
What should I watch for AFTER starting HUMIRA?
HUMIRA can cause serious side effects, including:
- Serious infections. These include TB and infections caused by viruses, fungi, or bacteria. Symptoms related to TB include a cough, low-grade fever, weight loss, or loss of body fat and muscle.
- Hepatitis B infection in carriers of the virus. Symptoms include muscle aches, feeling very tired, dark urine, skin or eyes that look yellow, little or no appetite, vomiting, clay-colored bowel movements, fever, chills, stomach discomfort, and skin rash.
- Allergic reactions. Symptoms of a serious allergic reaction include hives, trouble breathing, and swelling of your face, eyes, lips, or mouth.
- Nervous system problems. Signs and symptoms include numbness or tingling, problems with your vision, weakness in your arms or legs, and dizziness.
- Blood problems (decreased blood cells that help fight infections or stop bleeding). Symptoms include a fever that does not go away, bruising or bleeding very easily, or looking very pale.
- Heart failure (new or worsening). Symptoms include shortness of breath, swelling of your ankles or feet, and sudden weight gain.
- Immune reactions including a lupus-like syndrome. Symptoms include chest discomfort or pain that does not go away, shortness of breath, joint pain, or rash on your cheeks or arms that gets worse in the sun.
- Liver problems. Symptoms include feeling very tired, skin or eyes that look yellow, poor appetite or vomiting, and pain on the right side of your stomach (abdomen). These problems can lead to liver failure and death.
- Psoriasis (new or worsening). Symptoms include red scaly patches or raised bumps that are filled with pus.
Call your doctor or get medical care right away if you develop any of the above symptoms.
Common side effects of HUMIRA include injection site reactions (pain, redness, rash, swelling, itching, or bruising), upper respiratory infections (sinus infections), headaches, rash, and nausea. These are not all of the possible side effects with HUMIRA. Tell your doctor if you have any side effect that bothers you or that does not go away.
Remember, tell your doctor right away if you have an infection or symptoms of an infection, including:
- Fever, sweats, or chills
- Muscle aches
- Shortness of breath
- Blood in phlegm
- Weight loss
- Warm, red, or painful skin or sores on your body
- Diarrhea or stomach pain
- Burning when you urinate
- Urinating more often than normal
- Feeling very tired
HUMIRA is given by injection under the skin.
This is the most important information to know about HUMIRA. For more information, talk to your health care provider.
You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit http://www.fda.gov/medwatch or call 1-800-FDA-1088.
If you are having difficulty paying for your medicine, AbbVie may be able to help. Visit AbbVie.com/myAbbVieAssist to learn more.
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