Family Caregiving

In Discussion With…

In discussion with Linda Riesco, the mom  of a bike racer.

Both Forrest Riesco and his mother Linda are not quitters when it comes to achieving their goals. Today, as a fearless 22-year-old bike racer and celebrated elite athlete, Forrest is back at the top
of his game.

It was 10 years ago when Linda realized that her strong, active, healthy young son was frequently getting out of breath and was no longer interested in eating much of anything. Linda was concerned.

Rigorous training and scheduled races were put on hold. “I was worried sick,” says Linda. “Forrest had been secretive about feeling unwell and being in pain for six months. I was determined to get to the bottom of what was going on and get him back on course.” After a number of doctors visits and plenty of tests, Forrest was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, a chronic disease of the larger intestine where the lining of the colon becomes inflamed and develops painful open ulcers.

Linda felt helpless, especially when she realized how much discomfort Forrest was living with. But she soldiered on, asking questions and spending time learning from other families.

Forrest struggled through rounds of medications, including steroids, but nothing helped. Eventually, doctors recommended the removal of two-thirds of Forrest’s large intestine, which he was willing to accept. However, Linda was very worried perhaps more than Forrest about the impact of living with IBD and using a colostomy bag. Would this be the end of his downhill mountain-bike racing career? Forrest decided to opt out of surgery. Instead, Linda encouraged him to try a new biologic medicine that was helping other teens with IBD.

Fast forward: Thanks to Linda’s diligent research and her ongoing support, Forrest is now thriving. He ranked number two at this year’s Canada Cup. And you guessed it his medication is still working well and he’s back practising his moves on the Mach Chicken.

Reprinted with permission from You, Me and IBD.

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