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An Inspiring Q and A with Elaine Metlin on Living With IBD

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Inflammatory Bowel Disease related image Photo: Elaine Metlin

“I won’t be defined by my disease.”

That’s a more powerful statement than you might realize, and lately it’s been rewarding to hear it from a number of Americans living with Crohn’s disease, an autoimmune disorder of the digestive system. It’s a chronic condition with lasting repercussions on physical and emotional health if not properly managed. Medical experts continue to seek answers on prevention and treatment.

I had the privilege of conducting an interview by email with attorney Elaine Metlin, 60, of Washington, D.C., who is the recipient of the 2011 Florence K. Murray Award from the National Association of Women Judges. The annual award goes to someone who is not a judge, but who has played an integral role in advancing women’s opportunities in the legal profession. Past recipients include former Attorney General Janet Reno and Yale University’s Judith Resnik. The awards dinner was scheduled for Oct. 15, 2011, in Newark, N.J., with Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg as the keynote speaker.

Although Metlin’s life has certainly had rough patches in her dealings with Crohn’s disease, it’s easy to see the disease has not defined her, not by a longshot.

Here’s what Metlin had to say:


How long did it take doctors to reach a diagnosis of Crohn's disease?

Several years. (She was diagnosed at 16.)

Was being an attorney an aspiration from an early age?

Actually, no.  I always thought I'd be a teacher (remember, I grew up in the ‘50s and ‘60s).  I changed my mind in college after the advent of the women's movement.

What are a few examples of your advocacy for women in the law?


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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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