College Students Connected by Crohn's Disease

May 31, 2017
Somewhere Over the Rainbow

Isn’t is strange how the world seems to connect us with the right people at the right time? The story of Alyssa Busard, 18, and Sarah Parkhurst, 17, both rising freshmen at Appalachian State University confirm this idea. They met through an incoming freshmen Facebook page and realized they had a connection by randomly scrolling through each other’s pictures.

One had taken a photo in a pediatric room at NHRMC’s Betty H. Cameron Women’s and Children’s Hospital and the other recognized the background. Noticing this, they messaged each other and determined they had been receiving the same infusion treatments, in the same hospital, for years without knowing it. They both get two-hour infusions every six weeks for Crohn’s disease. Recently, the girls arranged to receive infusions together.

Sarah and Alyssa holding hands and touching hearts

Sarah, a senior at Croatan High School in Newport, had been driving almost two hours to Wilmington for infusions, while Alyssa, a senior at Ashley High School, was already in Wilmington.

Both girls had attended the same high school band competitions for years and did not know it. Sarah plays clarinet, is self-taught in ukulele and has a beautiful voice. Alyssa plays flute, piccolo, ukulele, and is also a good singer.

 “It is nice knowing someone with Crohn’s. We can talk about it and support each other. Our friends know so much about it, that having each other extends that support to a bigger group,” Sarah said.

“It’s good to know someone who understands,” Alyssa added.

Though they will be on the other side of the state to start college, they will be living in the same dorm on the same floor. Lowell Higgins, RN, has set up their infusions in Boone so they can continue to receive treatment while they are in school.

Sarah’s mom, Leony Parkhurst, feels more comfortable knowing her daughter has someone who understands her disease. “It gives me breathing room to know they have each other.”

The similarities continue—their younger sisters both share the exact same first and middle names. When asked if they were separated at birth, they all laughed. “We’re all so intertwined,” said Alyssa.

It is almost as if these girls are long lost soul sisters who have finally reunited through NHRMC to gain the support they need for college and the rest of life.

Categories: Patient Stories

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