Former New England Patriot Matt Light Battles Crohn’s Disease

An NFL star describes his ongoing struggle with Crohn’s disease.

CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 12: Julius Peppers #90 of the Chicago Bears rushes against Matt Light #72 of the New England Patriots at Soldier Field on December 12, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. The Patriots defeated the Bears 36-7.

What's your advice to others struggling with Crohn's disease?

Your attitude is a lot of it. It's really important to surround yourself with positive people and to educate yourself. There are great resources out there, like the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America. Talk to other people who have the disease, too. You can learn what their triggers are and share your experiences.

[See IBS? Could be the FODMAPs.]

And, don't ever give up hope. Don't feel like you can't get through it. There's a treatment out there for you, and it might not work the first time, but something will.

What else has your experience taught you?

When you go through tough things like this, it gives you a pretty awesome perspective on what's important and what really matters. I used to say to myself, "Even though it's bad, you've been through worse, and you can battle back—it's not the end of the world." If you give in to being negative, that's the easy route. My goal is to stay positive, because that's all you've got sometimes. Like my mom always says, keep your big-boy pants on, keep going, and you'll get it done.