Chicago Bears honor Aurora teen fighting ulcerative colitis

Aurora resident Angelique Glover, 17, shown with her mother, Angie Magee, was honored during the Chicago BearÕs first preseason game against Philadelphia on Aug. 8. As her family watched, she walked onto Soldier Field to help unfurl the Bear Down Flag before kickoff. Glover was was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis in January.  |  Submitted
Aurora resident Angelique Glover, 17, shown with her mother, Angie Magee, was honored during the Chicago BearÕs first preseason game against Philadelphia on Aug. 8. As her family watched, she walked onto Soldier Field to help unfurl the Bear Down Flag before kickoff. Glover was was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis in January. | Submitted

The symptoms

According to mayoclinic.org, symptoms of ulcerative colitis include abdominal pain, bloody stool, ongoing bouts of diarrhea and an unexplained fever lasting more than a day. For treatment, doctors typically provide anti-inflammatory drugs to patients and immune system suppressors.

For 17-year-old Aurora resident Angelique Glover, the last eight months have been anything but ordinary. She’s faced dangerous weight loss, blood transfusions and colon surgery — health issues most “normal” teenagers have never faced.

Glover, who was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis in January, was honored Aug. 8 during the Chicago Bears first preseason game against Philadelphia. As her family watched, she walked onto Soldier Field to help unfurl the Bear Down Flag before kickoff.

Angie Magee, Glover’s mother, could only find one word to describe the experience.

“Surreal,” she said. “Watching her walk across that field, you replay some of the things that happened in your mind because you have to acknowledge how you got there.

“It’s one of those milestones that builds who you are as a person.”

For Glover, this milestone was hard fought. Since her diagnosis in January, she’s undergone two major surgeries to correct her ulcerative colitis. The inflammatory bowel disease causes a variety of painful intestinal symptoms, including irregular bowel movements, sharp abdominal pain and bloody stool.

“I was weak,” she said. “I lost a lot of weight. I was dehydrated. I wasn’t eating. I was a basketball player, so I couldn’t even finish my senior year.”

She missed more than basketball. Because of the time required for surgery — she missed 26 days for one alone — Glover struggled to keep up with her schoolwork. But her greatest challenge? Family. She struggled being apart from them for long periods of time, and they felt the same.

“I’ve had a lot of emotions, as any parent would,” Magee said. “My children have always been healthy, so to have something life-threatening like this was really hard. I’m kind of a control-freak — I like to organize — but with this, I had no control over anything.”

As Glover and her family struggled to gain control over her symptoms, the staff at Advocate Children’s Hospital worked to eliminate her disease permanently. During Glover’s first surgery, part of her infected colon was removed. Several months later, she returned to the hospital for a second operation, where part of her rectum was removed and replaced during a procedure called ileoanal anastomosis surgery — commonly called j-pouch — where part of her small intestine was used to form a new rectum.

“The hospital staff was amazing,” Magee said. “From the moment the hospital’s own transportation team picked her up, I knew she was in good hands. Sometimes, with surgeons and doctors, you don’t get the sense that they’ll take that extra step to make the family and patient feel comfortable, but they did.”

As an extra step, the staff at Advocate Children’s Hospital provided Glover a counselor, someone who had undergone the procedure, too. A cousin of Glover’s nurse came to the hospital and recounted her experience, providing her with advice and support. Inspired, Glover decided to give back: she met with several patients around the hospital and traded stories and advice, comforting them before their procedure.

“I’m very proud of her,” Magee said. “She was able to reach in and find that strength to communicate about things that are really personal and private with a stranger.”

While she has spent time helping others, Glover is gathering strength for herself: she has one more surgery to complete the three-part procedure. Once approved, she will undergo a reconstructive surgery that will allow her colon to function normally. Although her ordeal is not over, Glover already has been inspired to make a career of helping others in her predicament.

“I know what I want to do in life,” she said. “I decided it’d be really cool if I went into nursing, pediatric care. That’s my dream — to make kids happy. I know how it feels, so I’ll try to cheer them up and make their day better.”

The symptoms

According to mayoclinic.org, symptoms of ulcerative colitis include abdominal pain, bloody stool, ongoing bouts of diarrhea and an unexplained fever lasting more than a day. For treatment, doctors typically provide anti-inflammatory drugs to patients and immune system suppressors.

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