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Celiac is a family affair.


The Cretney’s

In most respects we’re just like any other big, loving family. But there’s one important way that we’re different: eleven members of our family have been diagnosed with an incurable, chronic disease.

Celiac disease has been woven into the fabric of our family’s everyday lives for decades. After years of suffering so much that she finally thought she must be dying, our mom, Cathie Cretney, was diagnosed with celiac disease in 1980. She was the first one in our family to get the diagnosis, and she paved the way for the rest of us—her children and grandchildren.

– Cretney Family

11 Members with Celiac Disease

“As a kid I was irritable, I couldn’t gain weight, I didn’t want to eat, and I had a terrible time concentrating in school—and the struggle continued into adulthood. After the birth of my third child, I truly thought I was going to die. I was just so sick with vomiting and diarrhea.”

When Mom’s family doctor couldn’t figure out what was wrong with her, he finally sent her to a gastroenterologist who diagnosed Mom with celiac disease and told her to eat a gluten-free diet—still the only known treatment for celiac disease. That’s when her life changed.

Mom went to the very first Canadian Celiac Association (CCA) conference in Waterloo in 1981, and eventually became the president of her local chapter in St. Catharine’s. Without the CCA, we don’t know where our family would be today. The CCA is a lifeline for our family and for thousands of families across Canada who live with the reality of celiac disease and gluten disorders.

Being diagnosed with celiac disease—being told that you have a chronic, lifelong condition—means changing your lifestyle, your habits, and your entire mindset as far as your relationship to food goes. It’s a constant battle, and it’s a lot to absorb. Food is our medicine. What and how we eat really is that critical.

In fact, the CCA exists to help us regain power over our disease, our bodies, and our lives. Thanks to the CCA Professional Advisory Council, the CCA is able to offer a singular, reliable source of information for Canadians living gluten free—and for their families and health care providers too.

Watch this video about family screening for Celiac disease
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