Will Lanier ’23 (recently profiled as one of our #futurefordhamlawyers) was named Patient Advocate of the Year at the 53rd Annual Great Gutsby Gala, presented by the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation’s Greater New York Chapter. In 2005, he was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis and was later diagnosed with colon cancer in 2014, at the age of 28. After doctors discovered the tumor early on, Lanier underwent three surgeries and has been cancer-free for six years.
The Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation annually pays tribute to those battling Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, while raising money to support its mission of finding cures for these diseases.
“I’ve been to their galas in person, which are beautiful and amazing, and last night, while all digital, it was something truly beautiful,” he said. “I never thought I would receive this great honor, let alone be nominated for it. But I’m glad and happy to be that voice for all patients.”
On November 12, Lanier was honored alongside his doctor, Ellen Scherl, who established the IBD Center at NY Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medicine in 2002. Lanier has been working with the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation as an ambassador for the last six years. Through a blog, he chronicled his journey with colon cancer, which amplified his voice and allowed him to share his story with others.
“Everything you read online about Crohn’s and Colitis is very gloom and doom, but I put a spin on it—writing about the gloom, doom, and silver linings and sharing my true self and real feelings. I think a lot of patients resonate with that and look to that kind of outlook for hope,” Lanier said.
“Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are very lonely diseases, where you suffer in silence because no one really talks about them. But more than three million Americans are suffering from these diseases and I know what these patients are going through. To be that positive voice for them, I think, is so important.”