In 1994, Rob was a fit, healthy 23-year-old, an amateur runner and athlete. Until that time, he had never really been sick. He didn’t even have a regular doctor. When the illness started, it progressed rapidly. Daily diarrhea. Sustained stomach cramps. The diagnosis was Crohn’s disease, an inflammatory condition of the digestive tract. It got worse, and his weight plummeted from 185 to 105 pounds. After a year and a half, it became clear that his large intestine, his colon, needed to be removed.
Not long after surgery, Rob started getting active again, running and eventually competing. In his lowest moment, he had not been able to climb the stairs in his house so regaining his fitness became a very personal challenge. Recovering mentally would take longer.
When Rob was ill, he learned an aunt of his also had Crohn’s, a fact she had never shared, even with close family members. Through her experience, and his own, Rob realized how destructive the stigma surrounding intestinal diseases and having an ostomy can be. How it can isolate you, keep you from reaching out and getting help. Rob decided he had to do something about it.
The Seven Summits campaign, which we call “No Guts Know Glory” grew from Rob’s love of sport, adventure and the outdoors. By taking it to the extreme, and on a global basis, Rob hopes to show people everywhere that having these diseases or having an ostomy, like Rob does, shouldn’t stop you from leading a full life. You may not be able to climb mountains, but there are so many other things you can do.
To further this goal, Rob started the Intestinal Disease Education and Awareness Society (IDEAS), from his home base in Vancouver, British Columbia. Rob also approached ConvaTec, whose ostomy products he wears, to sponsor his climbs, and became a member of the Great Comebacks™ family. This global program has allowed Rob to speak in many countries, alongside his climbs and through local patient and professional organizations.
While reaching the top of each mountain is a great accomplishment, with respect, Rob says removing the social stigma associated with these diseases and having an ostomy is a far more daunting task. A task which will require much more than his voice on its own, so Rob hopes you add yours in letting people know they are not alone. One of the young people Rob recently met said, “this isn’t really about climbing mountains, it’s about moving them.”
In 2010, Rob Hill successfully reached the South Summit of Mount Everest completing his 7Summits campaign.