Mill Creek woman says Crohn’s disease won’t define her

MILL CREEK — When Barb Chaplin had her first flareup, the pain jolted her awake and she thought it was appendicitis. Her doctor dismissed it as pre-wedding stress.

A handful of years went by before she was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease.

Crohn’s is a chronic inflammatory bowel disease typically affecting parts of the small and large intestines. Parts of the digestive system become swollen and have ulcers. While a cause is unknown, most people are diagnosed in their late teens or early 20s.

For nearly 40 years, Chaplin has made Crohn’s fit into her life. She takes a pill to help suppress her immune system. She eats whatever she wants. Last fall, she vacationed in Italy.

“My thing was to not be in denial and not let it define me,” she said.

She credits her family and the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America, of which she’s a board member, for reminding her she’s not alone.

“They’re really respectful,” she said of her family. “They don’t think of me as sick.”

The NW Chapter of the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America is recognizing Chaplin and her family with the Mike McCready and Ashley O’Connor Award at an April 27 fundraiser. The award is named after Pearl Jam guitarist Mike McCready, who has Crohn’s and is active in raising awareness, along with his wife.

During the early years, Crohn’s did disrupt Chaplin’s life. Flareups left her feeling queasy and weak. She stayed close to home.

But in 1984, after her third son was born, she was prescribed Imuran, a pill that at the time was given to people with arthritis. That was a turning point for her.

“You can live a good life,” she said.

These days, Chaplin is a freelance graphic designer. She started a blog about living in Mill Creek. She is a grandmother. Her family owns a Volkswagen dealership and meets every week for Sunday dinner.

A couple of years ago, Chaplin and her husband, Kent, participated in a Crohn’s disease walk after reading about Edmonds resident Lois Fink, who has Crohn’s disease.

Fink and state Rep. Marko Liias received the 2010 McCready Award. They banded together to have a law passed requiring businesses to allow customers with gastrointestinal disorders to use employee restrooms.

“For the first time I was surrounded by a group of people who have it or knows someone with it,” she said.

That comfort encouraged Chaplin to rally her family and friends to participate in Crohn’s walks and accept a seat on the foundation board.

“I definitely don’t feel alone in this,” she said.

Talk to us

More in Local News

Ella Larson, left, and Simon Fuentes sort through blueberries at Hazel Blue Acres on Friday, Aug. 12, 2022 in Arlington, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Fruits, flowers and bees aplenty in Arlington farm fete

First-ever event highlights local growers’ bounty and contributions to local community

The Everett Districting Commission is proposing four adjustments to the city council districts based on 2020 Census data. (City of Everett)
Proposed map shifts every Everett City Council district

Census data from 2020 prompted several “small tweaks” to council district boundaries.

Cars wait to turn onto Highway 9 from Bickford Avenue on Wednesday, May 18, 2022 in Snohomish, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Highway 9 stretch closing for roundabout work next week

Drivers will need to use detours as the closure affects the stretch between Second and 30th streets in Snohomish.

Commanding Officer Meghan Bodnar is greeted by her son Grady, who hasn’t seen her in 224 days, at Naval Station Everett on Thursday, Aug. 11, 2022 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
After 200-plus days abroad, Navy destroyers return to Everett homeport

The USS Gridley is one of the few women-led ships, attesting to a growing number of women in the U.S. military.

A concept drawing shows the future multi-use path along U.S. 2 between 179th Avenue Southeast and the North Kelsey Street shopping area. (City of Monroe)
Monroe to start building walking, biking path along U.S. 2

The long-awaited project will give pedestrians and cyclists a safe route to the North Kelsey Street shopping area.

Grand Apartments’ owners are under scrutiny over alleged unpermitted electrical and plumbing work. Photographed in Everett, Washington on August 11, 2022. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Decision delayed on $4,500 in fines for Grand Apartments owner

An attorney for the landlord said he only learned of the hearing 15 minutes before it started Thursday.

Jennifer Bereskin is a housing advocate who was previously homeless in south Snohomish County.  Photographed on August 9, 2022. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Where shelter space has been scarce, Lynnwood explores ‘rapid rehousing’

Jennifer Bereskin grew up couch-surfing near Lynnwood. A new program seeks to create an easier path for this generation.

Everett
Man dies in motorcycle crash that snarled I-5 in Everett

Washington State Patrol: he tried to speed by another driver but lost control and hit the shoulder barrier.

Rev. Barbara Raspberry, dressed in her go-to officiating garments, sits in the indoor chapel at her home, the Purple Wedding Chapel, on Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2022, in Everett, Washington. The space used to be two bedrooms, but she and her husband Don took down a wall converted them into a room for wedding ceremonies the day after their youngest son moved out over 20 years ago. The room can seat about 20 for in-person ceremonies, plus it serves as a changing room for brides and is the setting for virtual weddings that Raspberry officiates between brides and their incarcerated fiancees at the Monroe Correctional Complex. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Everett’s oh-so-colorful Purple Wedding Chapel is in the red

Rev. Rasberry has hitched hundreds of couples over the years. After her husband died, she’s unsure if she can keep the place.

Most Read