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

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Lake Stevens in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
Motorcyclist identified in fatal crash near Lake Stevens

Anthony Palko, 33, died Monday night after colliding with a passenger car. The juveniles in the car were taken to the hospital.

Police: Marysville man shot sword-wielding roommate in self-defense

The roommates were arguing over eBay sales, according to police. Then one of them allegedly brandished a two-foot sword.

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Lake Stevens in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
Everett boy, 12, identified as Davies Beach drowning victim

Malachi Bell was one of three swimmers in distress Sunday in Lake Stevens. He did not survive.

Port of Everett hosting annual open house after pandemic hiatus

Also, Rustic Cork Wine Bar plans to open a second shop at Fisherman’s Harbor — the latest addition to the port’s “wine walk.”

Mike Kersey with Aiya Moore, daughter of Christina Anderson, right, talk about the condition of Nick’s Place in Everett, Washington on June 17, 2022.  (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
‘We’re all good people when we get clean and sober’

Who has fentanyl taken from us? A messenger who saved lives. A “street mom.” A grandpa who loved his grandkids “999 trillion times.”

Snohomish County Superior Courthouse in Everett, Washington on February 8, 2022.  (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Bailiff’s comments leads to appeal of child rape conviction

Joseph Hall, of Snohomish, was sentenced to more than 13 years in prison. Now he faces another trial.

Jeffrey Vaughan
In unexpected move, Vaughan resigns from Marysville council

He got re-elected in November. But he and his wife moved to Texas when she received a job promotion.

Snohomish County Prosecutor Adam Cornell at the Snohomish County Courthouse on Monday, Nov. 15, 2021 in Everett, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
How to answer Snohomish County’s basic crime questions? ‘Transparent data’

An initiative funded in part by Microsoft could reveal racial disparities, while creating an “apples to apples” database.

Chris Rutland and son Julian buy fireworks from the Big House of Boom stall at Boom City on Thursday, June 30, 2022 in Tulalip, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
At Tulalip’s Boom City, fireworks are a family tradition

Generations have grown up at the Fourth of July institution. “Some people make good money, some are just out here for the pastime.”

Most Read