Cassidy Bargell is a collegiate rugby player for Harvard University and 2019 national champion.
Bargell was named an All-American as both a freshman and sophomore and was a finalist for collegiate player of the year in 2019. Throughout the pandemic, she trained and competed with USA Rugby while completing her junior year remotely.
It was during this year that she first developed gastrointestinal symptoms and was later diagnosed with severe acute ulcerative colitis (UC).
Ulcerative colitis caused Bargell to put her studies and training on pause. After medical therapy options failed, she underwent a total colectomy (removal of her colon) and now has an ileostomy.
An ileostomy is an opening in the abdominal wall where the end of the small intestine is pulled through, and an external bag is attached. Since surgery, she has returned to Harvard and to full-contact rugby. Bargell’s surgery provided not only relief to her physical pain, but also opened the door to a new community of ostomates.
Bargell’s talk tells her journey through being diagnosed, surgery, and learning to live with UC. She hopes by sharing her story she can connect with and help others with inflammatory bowel disease.
You can watch Bargell’s full TEDxBoston talk below:
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