16 Jan 2014

Crohn's disease through a lens: 'Bold and Beautiful' photography campaign raises vital funds and awareness

Crohn's diseasePhotographer Megan Milburn is undertaking an imaginative photojournalism campaign to challenge preconceptions of beauty and raise awareness of Crohn’s disease.

During the next six months Megan will be taking a series of ‘Bold and Beautiful’ photographs of close friend Rachel Gilbey who is a Crohn’s sufferer. They’ll be using this inspiring photography project to generate awareness of Crohn's and collect donations for the charity Crohn's and Colitis UK.

Rachel’s courageous story

Rachel was diagnosed with Crohn’s in September 2011 – a disease that has brought her a great deal of pain and suffering, to the extent it controls her life. A five-week stay in hospital ended with an operation to remove 20cm of diseased small bowel. She was told that this last resort would be likely to put her disease into remission. However, within a month her symptoms worsened as a further 20cm of diseased bowel was found.

In the weeks that followed Rachel’s hair began falling out – the cause of which is still being investigated. In response to this, Rachel decided to launch the 'Bold and Beautiful' photography campaign to document the impact of the disease.

A disease with far-reaching implications

Crohn’s disease is a chronic whereby the body's immune system begins attacking healthy cells in the gastrointestinal tract, causing inflammation. Sufferers can experience abdominal pain, fever and abscesses – though symptoms can differ. The disease can affect everything from your diet to your relationships to your choice of career.

Currently, there is no cure for Crohn's disease, although advances are being made all the time.

Speaking about Rachel’s courage, Megan said: “She did everything to cover up the baldness and she was really ashamed of her appearance. After a while she realised that this didn't change the person she was inside and her heart and strength was becoming more beautiful to others. She wants to help others who are going through similar situations and she believes that showcasing herself will inspire people to stop covering up who they are and be proud of how they look.”

Using photography to grab people’s attention

To Megan, the ‘Bold and Beautiful’ campaign is about having the strength and confidence to be proud in the skin you live in. She explains: “Rachel herself is bold as she is courageous to put herself out there the way she is, to raise donations and awareness. Moreover the photos themselves are bold as they are eye-catching and strong, which we hope to grab people’s attention with.”

Megan chose to use MyDonate as 100 per cent of funds raised would go to Crohn's and Colitis UK. Megan said: “I did some research and chose MyDonate as the best means of fundraising. On comparison websites ‘Which?’ and ‘MoneySupermarket’ it had the best reviews, saying MyDonate gives the most money to the charity.”

Funding vital research

Funds raised go towards building the profile of Chron’s and Colitis UK, and helps the charity to influence decision makers at local and national levels. Vital research programmes have also been made feasible with the support of fundraisers like Megan and Rachel. Projects funded have covered a wide variety of possible causes, including genetics, viruses and bacteria, the immune system and the environment.

“We’re thrilled that Megan and Rachel are raising awareness and funds,” Suzi Clark, Director of Marketing and Fundraising at Crohn’s and Colitis UK said. “More awareness will help those affected by the conditions to feel better understood. More funds will help us to reach out to those in need and also fund vital research.”

View Megan’s fundraising page

To view Megan’s photography portfolio you can visit her Flickr profile

You can find out more about Crohn’s and Colitis UK on their website





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