Many people know News Channel Four’s Chellie Mills from her work over the past few years on our morning shows.
What many don’t know is Chellie has been battling a chronic illness for years and recently has been left with some pretty major medical decisions to make.
Over the last year we've watched and some of you have noticed as Chellie's weight has dwindled; she's lost more than 13 pounds since February 2012.
She is battling Crohn's Disease.
It is a digestive disorder not many people talk about but one Chellie has decided to share her story in hopes of helping others know not only what's she's going through but what so many others are also struggling with as well.
Chellie said, “It's a disease people are afraid to talk about or ashamed to talk about or mostly embarrassed to talk about.”
Dr. David Stokesberry, with Digestive Disease Specialist, is Chellie’s doctor.
“The body’s immune system is attacking itself,” Dr. Stokesberry said. “It is a big deal, especially for people who have it. It causes great disruption in their life often at a time when their life is just getting started.”
“No one in my family has ever had Crohn's disease," Chellie said. "There's not really an explanation for it. There's no cure for it.”
Some days are better than others for her.
“People might look at me and see me on TV and think I'm fine," she said. "There have been days when I just sit at my desk, close my eyes and pray that it will go away.”
Chellie’s husband, Nathan, said, “You can just tell she's a little irritated, things aren't right.”
“It was last February, I noticed I was in a lot of pain," Chellie said. "At that point I was missing work. They put me on a steroid and it just didn't work.”
Dr. Stokesberry said, “Her problem has always been in what's called the terminal illeum; It's right where the small intestine meet the colon.”
Nathan said, “She's got this hole in her intestine, basically it just hurts anytime something passes through.”
Chellie said, “I go to an infusion center every eight weeks and get an IV of Remicade; it takes about 3 hours.”
“People ask me all the time how long do you have to do these infusions," she said. "The reality is it could be the rest of my life. I don’t know. My doctor doesn't know.”
Chellie said, “I've lost 13 pounds since this time last year. None of my clothes fit. They're all falling off of me. My hair is falling out.”
In talking about her illness, Chellie and Nathan also opened up about the changes it forced them to make in growing their family.
Chellie said, “My body may not be able to carry another baby. I may not be healthy enough to carry another baby.”
Nathan said, “I would like to have another kid or two but my plan is not always God's plan.”
“I feel that in every struggle I have, God wants me to use it to help someone else,” Chellie said. “If me talking about this can help someone, then I know I’m not going through this for nothing.”
The good news is Chellie's infusions do seem to be helping; she said she is in a lot less pain.
One reason she wanted to open up about this illness is to bring awareness about Crohn's Disease.
Chellie has formed a team for an upcoming walk called Take Steps for Crohn's and Colitis.
If you would like to join Chellie's team, start your own team or if you would like donate, you can do so through Chellie’s team page.
The money raised goes to fund research toward finding a cure for Chellie and the more than 1.4 million others who struggle with this disease.