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Thursday, July 31, 2014

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Support for those living with autoimmune diseases

Tags: Health
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Aaron Maresky

Aaron’s Apple, a charitable organization started by a child to help other children, helps fund the high costs of medication and treatment for families whose children suffer from chronic illnesses. 

At a March 6 event for the charity, world-renowned clinical nutritionist Dr. Melvyn Grovit and psychotherapist Stacey Dombrowksy will speak to people living with inflammatory bowel disease and other autoimmune conditions.

“If you are suffering from Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, celiac, rheumatoid arthritis, allergies, eczema, psoriasis – or if you simply want to improve your health, this event will have something for everyone,” said Mandy Maresky, co-founder of Aaron’s Apple.

Your body’s immune system protects you from disease and infection, but if you have an autoimmune disease, even the healthy cells in your body are attacked.

According to Dr. Edward Keystone, director of the Rebecca MacDonald Centre for Arthritis and Autoimmune Diseases at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto, “there are 50 known autoimmune diseases affecting two million Canadians.”

While we don’t yet understand the causes of autoimmunity or how to cure it, “there is a huge sense of optimism surrounding their ultimate cure,” he said.

Researchers are learning more about the immune system and why it becomes overactive, including the role of genetics.

Aaron’s Apple was born from the belief that every child has the right to experience a happy and pain-free life. Parents of children with chronic illness are faced with the harsh reality that they are unable to control the illness with which their child has been diagnosed.

The options to ease the suffering of these children often come in the form of highly priced medical treatments. Some families are able to meet the high costs with medical insurance, while others are not as fortunate. Aaron’s Apple helps families pay for expensive medication and treatments.

“I want to be able to help other sick children who aren’t as lucky as I am, so I started a charity called Aaron’s Apple when I was seven years old,” said Aaron Maresky, now 12, co-founder of Aaron’s Apple.

“I believe that, as parents, we have expectations, hopes, and dreams. When a child is diagnosed with a health problem or chronic illness, these aspirations are altered in some way. While one parent is hoping to see their child graduate from university, another is praying that the child can simply live a pain-free life,” Dombrowsky said.

Grovit’s mission is to do research and educate others about the benefits of nutritional therapy in the management of chronic illness. He has developed new clinical nutrition protocols for individuals living with Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis and short bowel syndrome, focusing on the role of food and the microbiota (formerly known as gut flora, the microscopic living organisms in the bowel) in inflammatory diseases. Through the years, he has made a lasting impact on the lives of many individuals and their families.

The classic indicator of an autoimmune disease is inflammation, which can cause redness, heat, pain and swelling. Sufferers may have flare-ups, meaning the  symptoms get worse, as well as remissions, when symptoms get better or disappear. 

Dombrowsky will speak about living with a chronic illness and how it does not have to be a life sentence. Dombrowsky’s approach to healing is naturalistic, spiritual, wide-ranging and eclectic, combining both traditional and the newest cutting-edge methods.

The event will be held at 7 p.m. at the SHAMBA Foundation, 48 Yonge St., Suite 1200, and will include a cocktail reception, food and a silent auction.

For ticket information, please visit www.aaronsapple.com.

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