Pearl Jam Guitarist Talks About Making Music and Living with Crohn's Disease on

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Mike McCready, musician, activist and new father discusses helping youth deal with the physical and social implications of having the debilitating condition.

Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, also collectively known as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is estimated to affect as many as 1 million Americans. Persistent diarrhea (loose, watery, or frequent bowel movements), abdominal pain, fever, and, at times, rectal bleeding are the distinguishing symptoms of Crohn's disease. And though the disease can vary in severity among those afflicted, all those identified as having it would agree it's a life altering diagnosis.

So when Andy Savage, host of the internet radio show, asked Pearl Jam guitarist, Mike McCready, if he ever needed to leave the stage in the middle of show to go to the bathroom, he wasn't quite ready for the candidness of the answer. "Sometimes, I didn't quite make it off the stage", laughed the rock star. "But, I never let the disease stop me from doing what I love and that's the message I want to send to kids who are dealing with it also."

"Man, I have to commend you," said Savage. "I don't know how you stay so positive. I was doing research about the disease last night and it's just a terrible condition to have to go through life with." "Yes, but research by people like those from the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA) are making great strides in reducing the severity of the symptoms of the disease. I went public with my condition to show people that despite the disease you can still have a life and career," McCready said.

Patrick the Trainer, fitness expert to the show wanted to know if nutrition was an important consideration, since IBD targets primarily the digestive tract. "Yeah, it's important to make adjustments to your diet," agreed McCready. "Eliminating milk from my diet was helpful to me, but because the disease behaves so differently in individuals, other foods might be identified as being problematic for someone else." Does the musician feel that his "coming out" with the status of his health made a difference to young people with the disease? "I think so. I've met kids who have told me thanks that I've made it a little easier for them. And that's really satisfying, but don't get me wrong, I'm no hero. I just want to help whoever I can and I'm glad for the opportunity," he said.

"And now you have a child of your own, Congratulations!" said Savage. "Yeah, my wife gave birth to our beautiful daughter fifteen days ago. So if I sound a little tired…" replied McCready, clearly overjoyed with fatherhood. "Tired? What, are you kidding? There's probably like four nannies working around the clock caring for your newborn. You're a rock star!" countered show host Savage. But McCready was quick to respond, "No, no. I'm the kind of guy who wants to be involved in everything concerning our new baby. I don't want to miss a thing." Are you concerned about your daughter suffering with Crohn's also, Patrick the Trainer wanted to know. "After all, there's some evidence to indicate that the disease is hereditary." The guitarist took a moment to answer. "My wife and I thought about it. This wasn't a decision we took lightly, but the improvements in treating the disease are increasing every day and though the chance of our child having Crohn's is slight, we feel the support is there if she needs it."

So what's next for the new father and social activist? "Well, the band has a tour of Europe scheduled to start soon and I'm looking forward to that." The musician takes a beat, and then continues, "You know, some people might think I've had it rough with the Crohn's affecting my life the way it has, but I couldn't be more blessed. To be able to make a living doing what I love is truly a gift and I'm thankful for that everyday."

To learn more about Crohn's and Colitis, visit can be heard every Tuesday with new celebrity interviews and health and fitness topics.


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