Cordelia Bolander is a happy 6-year-old who loves life and is always in good spirits. She loves to dance, sing, draw, play soccer, go to school, and go to amusement parks. Her long list of life goals used to include walking the red carpet, becoming a singer, a teacher, and being the first astronaut to make it to Mars. But last summer, after experiencing some challenging health problems, Cordelia changed her mind. Her new life goal? Become a doctor.
Cordelia had been sick since March 2017. After a battery of tests, she was referred to a pediatric gastroenterologist and placed on medication. As Cordelia’s symptoms continued to worsen, she endured an endoscopy and colonoscopy at the end of June, which finally brought results. This always-smiling girl has Ulcerative Colitis (UC) affecting her entire colon.
Ulcerative Colitis is an autoimmune disorder in which a person’s immune system attacks their colon. UC can also cause fatigue, joint pain, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, and inflammation. It is a life-long illness with no cure.
“Despite all her challenges, Cordelia loves life and is always happy,” said Cordelia’s mom, Tracy. “No matter what is going on, she wants to cheer everyone up. She makes friends everywhere she goes from Hy-Vee to her great grandma’s nursing home. You can’t help but feel happy when she is around. She lights up every room she enters!”
To manage her UC, Cordelia has doctor visits regularly, labs, blood draws, and occasional hospital stays. Although Cordelia looks and acts like other children her age, she has pain in her legs and abdomen, often needs to rush to the bathroom, and cries because of the pain. Showing a maturity beyond her years, she asks questions about cancer, medication, what it means, why it attacks her colon, and frequently reminds her parents when she needs her medicine.
“Cordelia’s favorite color used to be rainbows,” said Tracy, “but ever since she heard that a purple ribbon stands for her illness, purple has become her favorite color.”
Since her diagnosis last summer, Cordelia has a new career goal: “I want to be a doctor like my doctor, so I can help other children like me. I can tell them I know how they feel, and it will be okay because I have been through it, too.”
“We always knew Cordelia was strong,” said Tracy, “but after her diagnosis she has shown her strength tenfold. We all wish and hope that one day there will be a cure for UC.” Perhaps Dr. Cordelia will find it!