Friends, family offer support to 17-year-old battling Crohn’s

by Symptom Advice on November 18, 2011

Tuesday, Nov 8 2011, 8:19 am :

Want to help?

The Walk for Madison will be Nov. 12 in uptown Shelby, beginning at the Cleveland County Chamber, 200 S. Lafayette St., Shelby. Registration is at 8:30; walk at 9.

Each team walker will raise donations through sponsors. if a child is the walker, parents are expected to accompany him or her with no charge. Non-fundraisers who wish to participate in the walk may do so by either sponsoring someone for at least $17 or donating at least $17 at the event.

For more information, to walk, to donate, and to volunteer for the walk, check out the “Walk for Madison” Facebook page at:

Madison Folk, 17, was on a mission trip to Nicaragua in April when she experienced virus-like symptoms and ulcers and sores erupted in her mouth.

“We just thought it was the stress of traveling,” said her dad, Mark Folk, who also went on the medical mission trip.

But when they returned home, Madison Folk’s symptoms continued to get worse and it would be five months and numerous hospital stays before any treatment would bring relief.

The family has some help with the medical bills through a shared health care program called Samaritan’s Ministries. The program covers doctor bills, but doesn’t pay for medicine.

To assist the family with the mounting bills, friends and family are sponsoring Walk for Madison Nov. 12 in uptown Shelby. Registration will be at the Cleveland County Chamber, 200 S. Lafayette St., at 8:30 a.m. and the one-mile walk begins at 9 a.m.

“It’s hard to believe that people are doing the walk for me,” Madison Folk said. “It’s a nice thing.”

Diagnosis and questions

Madison Folk has Crohn’s disease, a hereditary condition that causes ongoing inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract. Crohn’s disease may occur in any area of the digestive tract. There can be healthy patches of tissue between diseased areas. Madison’s trip out of the country was one reason it took so long to make the diagnosis. Doctors had to rule out typhoid fever, parasites and other causes.

When doctors discovered Crohn’s, Madison Folk had lost 30 pounds. she had experienced severe pain, high fevers and three visits to the emergency room. The medicine helped for a short time, but then the symptoms came back worse than before.

“It hasn’t hit me that all that happened to me,” Madison Folk said. “for the longest time, nobody could help me. It was frustrating. my dad really helped a lot. He was there every step of the way. He could relate to how it felt.”

Mark Folk stayed with his 17-year-old daughter through the week, while his wife, Sheri Folk, worked and took care of their 11-year-old daughter, Sydnee. Mark Folk, founder of New Wilderness Adventures, a Christian ministry to men, and the pastor of a house church, couldn’t help but ask God why.

“I don’t understand it. There is a mystery in following God,” he said. “I was asking God, ‘Why is my child having to suffer?’ and he said, ‘you are going to have to fight for her.’ I said, ‘It’s too hard to watch her suffer,’ and God said, ‘I had to watch my child suffer.’”

Finding relief

In September Madison Folk was put on a feeding tube and a pediatric gastroenterologist at Levine’s Children’s Hospital ordered a colonoscopy, capsule endoscopy and endoscopy. The tests showed diseased areas in her small intestine. They suggested treatment with Remicade, a strong medication that costs $10,000 per dose.

“Mark has ulcerative colitis and we prayed so hard against that because Mark has dealt with it since he was in his 20s,” Sheri Folk said. “God has other plans in store for Madison. It broke our hearts and now we have to look ahead and ask ourselves, ‘What is going to be the blessing out of this?’ she has already been a blessing to the people at Levine’s. The nurses were amazed and commented on how well she took the feeding tube through her nose.”

Since beginning the treatments with Remicade, Madison Folk is gaining weight and feeling better. A senior at Thomas Jefferson Classical Academy, she’s been keeping up with her school work as a homebound student. she started back to school this week and went to a football game. The family is pleased to hear her whistling around the house again.

“she was so sick for so long. We are thankful that she is better,” Mark Folk said.

“We wanted God to heal her,” Sheri Folk added. “There are a lot of prayers going up for her. God used doctors and this medicine to bring about healing.”

Reach Jackie Bridges at 704-669-3337.

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