Can Ulcerative Colitis Be Cured?

When I first saw how the Crohns Colitis Foundation of America was advocating that the removal of a persons’ large intestine was a cure for ulcerative colitis, I thought it was absurd but it didn’t really bother me too much. When I see advocates using the phrase “Crohns disease and IBD” instead of “Crohns disease and Ulcerative Colitis” I initially didn’t pay much attention to it. Or rather, I didn’t allow it to sink in.

But here is the way I see it. If you have strep throat, take antibiotics for ten days and you are cured. If you have appendicitis, the cure is an appendectomy. If your tonsils are causing you discomfort, having them removed would be a cure in my book.

So what is the difference? You do not need your appendix or your tonsils to perform basic bodily functions, or for any reason for that matter.


A person needs their large intestine!!!!! Will you die without it? Probably not. Will your life be dramatically altered once your colon is gone? In all likelihood, yes.

If removing the large intestine in a patient with ulcerative colitis was really the “cure,” why would anyone bother with medications like remicade, humira, asocol, lialda, prednisone, 6mp, etc? Those have nasty side effects that no one would ever want to put into their body if there was truly a cure. Why would anyone suffer through flare ups, being in and out of the hospital for years, thus having it impact them not only physically but emotionally and socially as well… if they could just have their colon removed, be cured and go about their merry way?

The answer is: because the removal of a vital organ, like a persons’ large intestine, comes with other issues that need to be carefully thought about.

The best case scenario in an ulcerative colitis patient is they have their colon removed and have an extremely successful Jpouch surgery. And even that has issues of its own. A person runs the risk of pouchitis  (which can seem like having a flare up of UC in many ways), deals with frequent trips to the restroom, dehydration, blockages, etc. This best case scenario is also usually done in three steps/separate surgeries, where the patient needs to wear a temporary ileostomy bag for a number of months. Sometimes this surgery can be done in two steps, and rarely done in one nowadays due to the increased risk of complications. There are other types of pouches, although significantly rarer, like a Spouch, Wpouch, and Tpouch as well.

Does this sound like a “cure” to you? Does this sound like it is in the same world as an appendectomy, the cure for appendicitis?

I painted the best case scenario and believe me when I tell you, most people who have their large intestines removed are not that lucky! When I went in to have my colon removed, I was under the impression that I would have my diseased organ removed, wake up with a Jpouch, and have no idea anything was ever missing. I thought that I would just carry on about my business. I actually wondered why there were doctors for this disease and not just surgeons. It made me wonder why I went through so much beforehand; why I was ever put on something like prednisone and all the terribleness that that caused me at such a young age. I wondered why my parents and doctors allowed me to have my life destroyed by being in and out of the hospital so much, undergoing nonstop procedures and awful testing if all I had to do was have my diseased colon removed.

And then I got my answer. Surgery is a big f*ing deal! And it is an even bigger deal when you are removing an organ that is NECESSARY to a healthy digestive track. Not having a colon is not like not having an appendix, or your tonsils, or your wisdom teeth, or your gall bladder. You notice.

As most of you probably know by now, I was far from the best case scenario when I had my large intestine removed in an effort to “cure” my ulcerative colitis. I went through years of physical trauma and mental anguish. And now I have a permanent ileostomy.

Am I thankful that I do not need to be on medications since my diseased colon is gone? Yes. Would I ever want it back? Of course not. Am I in any shape or form comparing UC and CD? No and I never ever would.

All I am saying is that when you say the cure for ulcerative colitis is removing the colon, it sends the wrong message. It says to people who do not have inflammatory bowel disease and who are trying to become more educated that those of us who have had their large intestines removed are now living life as normally as they did prior to being diagnosed. And that is simply not true.

We need a real cure for crohns disease AND ulcerative colitis. The removal of a vital organ should never be construed as the answer and it pains me to see foundations and advocates either sending this faulty message, or blatantly disregarding what patients who suffer from ulcerative colitis go through.


  • A Guy With Crohn’s

    Well said. I have to say I used to say it was a cure..but that was before I knew better. My eyes have been opened.

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  • bodhisattvaintraining

    very well said

    • Marisa Lauren

      thank you!

  • thestomabaglady

    I totally agree. Today marks 11 weeks since my ileostomy. I avoided the surgery for 13 years and put up with crippling pain, blood, guts, accidents, passing out in toilets and being on the brink of death many times over the years. I ‘escaped’ surgery four times and lived in fear of having the operation despite the fact people kept telling me it would change my life.

    The main problem has always been that no-one seems to want to decide 100% which I have, four 10 years I was told I 100% had Crohn’s, now I have UC, MAKE UP YOUR MINDS!!!
    I have all the symptoms of Crohn’s but the majority of my biopsies say I have UC. I ran scared from the operation as I was terrified of living with a stoma.

    Now I’ve had it I wish I’d listened years ago and had it done. I feel better than I ever felt, not that I remember how I felt before I became ill any more. The damage the potent drugs have done to my body over the years is terrifying, and I worry what will happen to my body as I get older.

    I was told that removing my colon, if it is indeed UC, would ‘cure’ me of this horrendous illness. I don’t believe that one bit! I may feel better than I have ever done, but life with an ileostomy is not perfect. I may be freer than ever, but I am still facing problems, pain, discomfort and toilet anxiety. I agree with everything that you are saying…there has to be a better way than to remove a vital organ, we have to find a cure.

    Thank you for explaining this so clearly.

    • Marisa Lauren

      That is incredibly frustrating!!! I am so sorry you’ve been given the run around in terms of a diagnosis. Either way, as you pointed out, you aren’t the same as you were before you were diagnosed with IBD (whether it be crohns or UC.) My health is more stable since having my colon removed but I have to micromanage every single thing I put in my body because I don’t have a large intestine. Removal of a vital organ is not a cure. Thank you for sharing a bit of your experience with me and I am so sorry youre going through so much as well. I know how tough it is. I think youre remarkable! : )


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  • Matthew Dobos

    100% agree about how the word “cure” is used so casually with respect to Ulcerative Colits. If I had tennis elbow and ampuated my arm just above the elbow, I’d be cured too. The whole concept of “cure” with Ulecratinve Colitis should be thrown out the window. There is SO MUCH education that SHOULD happen to patients to help them learn and accept the results of surgery, and to me it’s a crime that doesn’t happen or even get spoken about as much. Add to that the fact that there is a percentage of patients (like myself, Sara Ringer and others) who were diagnosed with Crohn’s disease when we really had Crohns Colitis which is incurable, and it makes me wonder what “cure” really means. As an ostomate, I slightly disagree with the notion that the “best” one can hope for with surgery is a well functioning j-pouch. The “best” outcome of surgery is one which causes as little disruption to life as possible, while maintaining as close to the quality of life you had before, regardless of the surgery performed. Realistically, the best hope for this is a j-pouch though and I’m all for that of course. But the ostomy is a very nice fall back option, and not just the last option- at least for me. No matter whether j-pouch, kock poch, bcir, or ostomy, the best thing a patient can do is get educated as much they can before the surgery. A complete proctocelectomy is a life saving procedure and the result is life altering- but it doesn’t have to be miserable. At least now there are wonderful bloggers like Marissa who have lots of experience and willingly share it for all to read. Thanks again for all your work!

    • Marisa Lauren

      Completely agree with everything you said! Thanks for taking the time to read and comment. It’s all about quality of life.. Whatever that means is different depending on the person.

  • Jennifer Reiter Agard

    No kidding. I had the “cure” only to have problem, after problem, after problem… I’m as sick, or even more sick than I was before I had surgery ten years ago. In fact, no one can even clearly identify what disease I even have- and if the pouch was even something I should have had done. So frustrating.

  • Victoria Marie

    When someone throws ‘Ulcerative Colitis can be cured – I read about a footballer who had surgery and now he’s fine’ at you there is only one reply and that is to educate those who know no better than to sprout such nonsense in the first place! Great post as always :) and I whole heartedly agree that we need a real ‘cure’ not one which continues to cause pain and upset to those fighting IBD. Xx

  • Laura

    I agree with your statement & wish I would have had the opportunity to think long & hard before embarking on my “j pouch journey” a year & a half ago. Like Jenifer, I am as sick if not overall sicker than I was before surgery…nothing but complications & near death experiences since, & I still have an ostomy that I absolutely hate & am on long term disability away from the nursing career that I love. … That’s the thing though, isn’t it–we don’t really get the chance to think about the realities of surgery when we’re so sick that it doesn’t feel like we have the option of choice. I, too, have been told I have crohn’s colitis, severe uc, they’re not sure, etc. Soooo frustrating… But I do know that in Canada, if you have a diagnosis of crohn’s, you are not considered eligible for “uc curing” jpouch surgery…so it might be the doctor’s wishful thinking (partly), and it is difficult to tell with 100% accuracy from the pathology whether it really is uc or CD. Still doesn’t change the drastic effect any path of treatment, especially colectomy, has on our quality of life. Thanks for taking a strong stand on this difficult but very real topic.

    • Marisa Lauren

      Thank you so much for commenting. All this cure and other insane wording just confuses people. So sorry you’re not doing well :(

  • Anon

    If I had a choice of having my colon back with partial or temporary relief but no cure, I would do that. It I had a choice of having it back the way it was with the continued diarrhea, pain and stress, I would NOT do that. I have lived now since 1990 with an ileostomy and since 1992 with a urostomy from recurring cancer. Complications kept me from having a resection. I wear two two-piece pouches that I change every 3-4 days Overall, I have a descent quality of life and can do most everything that I did before but not as long and intense (swimming, walking, no running from other problems). I do NOT agree that a colectomy is a cure for ulcerative colitis but it is better than the final alternative – cancer and death. I had an entereoectomy that took my anus, bladder and prostate. I have an implant for erections to have intercourse with my wife.* The only serious problem I have now is recurring UTI’s from the way my uretors connected to the ileostomy relieving urine to my pouch. I have lived to see my three daughters get married and to see my four grandchildren. If I live another 10 years I may see a great grandchild.

    I have been in cancer remission since 1992 but I tell people it is the grace of God and not simply being a cancer survivor. I give all praise to God the Father, Jesus Christ my Savior and the Holy Spirit. I find peace and fulfillment in my relationship with God, my family and serving others. I have occasion to minister to those with similar problems that I have had and I believe God gives us these opportunities to use our struggles, physical and emotional, to help others. I worked full-time since my last major surgery in 1992 except the four years after when I was on disability and since 2009 when I went back on disability. I am now serving in ministry part-time as my strength and physical condition allows.

    Thanks for posting this it was pertinent to those struggling with this issue. I hope my statements will encourage someone who feels their life is over because of Crohns, UC or cancer. A person can let a disease and complications control them or they can be used by God to control the disease and serve others. Thanks again.

    *I have posted anon because of the personal nature of some of my comments.

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  • Brandon Ryan

    I took time out out to share my story so i can reach out to someone out
    there who might need this. My wife was diagnosed with crohn’s disease in
    2011. During this times she experienced chronic abdominal pain and
    cramping she was unable to swallow and she vomited ceaselessly, mouth
    sores and she had little or no appetite for food. The doctor prescribed
    several corticosteroids, mesalamine which she used but it became worse
    by the day. When i went to work in a nearby town i was talking about
    crohn when Jude told me he know a person who has a cure and that was how
    i got to know about Dr. Humphrey. I contacted him and explained all to
    him he told me that he has this very effective herbal medicine that can
    cure it, i was in shock but i gave a try because i loved my wife so
    much. He sent me the medication and i gave it to her as instructed
    within two weeks she was fully okay, we never experienced any side
    effects and we went to the doctor to confirm and she tested negative to
    crohn. If you are still suffering do not die in silence, contact him on
    ( i am very sure he can help you too.