Local woman overcomes health obstacles to go the full distance
Dawn Scherzo to run 5K in Disneyland next month
Longtime Watersedge resident Dawn Scherzo has fought many health battles in the last decade, but has emerged stron- ger. She will put that strength to the test as she prepares to run the Disneyland Half Marathon 5K next month.
A diabetic since the age of 13, now 52-year-old Scherzo has dealt with diabetic fibromyalgia and neuropathy as a result of her condition.
About 10 years ago, she was also diagnosed with chronic ulcerative colitis and diverticulitis.
Ulcerative colitis is characterized by inflammation and irritation of the intestines and colon, while diverticulitis occurs when pouches form in the colon, which often leads to inflammation and infection. Both conditions can lead to debilitating abdominal pain, as well as diarrhea and constipation.
In the years following her diagnosis, Scherzo dealt with increasingly-frequent episodes, noting that, eventually, she was missing multiple days of work per week due to flare-ups of symptoms.
Once active, her life came to a halt.
“I finally got to the point where my quality of life wasn’t where I wanted it to be,” she said.
Treatment for Scherzo’s conditions have been a mix of diet, exercise, medication and surgery.
In recent years she has had several in-patient hospital stays and undergone multiple surgeries, including a procedure to remove her sigmoid colon (the end of the large intestine) in March.
Add to that the significant injuries she suffered in a car accident last October that left her out of work for several weeks, and Scherzo was quickly reaching the end of her rope.
Enter Cigna’s health insurance’s Return to Work and Achilles programs.
An employee of Quest Diagnostics, a Cigna customer, Scherzo received accommodation and assistance through Cigna’s Return
to Work program, which aims to keep employees in the workplace.
She also enrolled in the Achilles program. As part of the program, she was partnered with a coach who provided her with resources (such as a gym membership) and guidance to improve her diet, get active and change her life.
Since joining, Scherzo has made it her mission to stick to a healthy diet (fruits, vegetables and lean meats), do something active every day and carefully monitor her health conditions.
Since her surgery and joining the program, Scherzo has seen her health improve dramatically. She has lost 30 pounds and has
only had four flare-ups of her colitis and diverticulitis since March, versus multiple flare-ups per week before.
Now, Scherzo is ready to put her newfound health to the test. Cigna is sponsoring her and two other customers to participate in the Disneyland Hald Marathon 5K in California from Sept. 1 through 4.
Since being invited to participate in April, Scherzo has been hard at work training.
“I’m not sure whether I’ll be able to run the whole 5K,” she noted, adding that she may run half and walk half.
Asked what her main motiva-
tion is for continuing to fight, despite numerous health struggles and setbacks, Scherzo pulled out a photo of her grandson.
“My life,” she said, smiling. She cited her whole family as inspiring and motivating her to succeed.
Beyond next month’s 5K, Scherzo plans to stay active. Her goal is to participate in the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America’s fundraiser half-marathon in New Orleans next February.
When asked what advice she has for others battling through their own health struggles, Scherzo offered a simple, three-word answer.
“Never give up.”
Watersedge resident Dawn Scherzo has overcome debilitating illnesses to achieve her goals.