In order to raise awareness of Crohn’s disease, 17-year-old Matty Fisher from Mill Hill has made a short film, Life Goes On, documenting his own struggle with the debilitating disease.
He was just 14 when he started experiencing symptoms, and soon received the diagnosis.
Crohn’s is a type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), characterised by the painful inflammation of the digestive tract. It is incurable but can be managed with medication.
“At first I kept my diagnosis a secret, I didn’t tell friends. I was quite embarrassed by it — I was worried they’d think of me differently,” said Matty. “That’s why I made the documentary, to try to encourage others to speak out.
“Like anyone who’s living with a serious condition I want people to know that it’s nothing to be ashamed of. I want people to feel free to be open because that only makes the situation better.”
Ashkenazi Jews are four times more likely to develop the digestive condition than the wider population. It is named after Dr Burrill Crohn, who first identified it in 1932 while working in Mount Sinai Hospital in New York.
Matty, who is studying photography, media and business A-levels at Immanuel College, is deputy head boy and is a budding filmmaker. He also runs a videography business on the side, filming barmitzvahs.
Friends rallied to help him make the documentary. “I was amazed at how supporting and helpful my friends were. I had friends help me write the script and help with the camera,” he said. “As I learnt, it was only by being open that people became more understanding and living with the disease became a lot easier.
“It hasn’t stopped me pursuing my hobby — I love videography, it’s my passion, so this is what I do even when I’m not feeling well,” he said.
“Some days I have to stay in bed, but I still try to be productive.” Matty is often treated at the Royal Free and he offers his heartfelt thanks to the NHS staff in his film. “Every time I go into hospital the doctors and nurses take incredible care of me, and I would like to thank them for everything they’ve done for me.”