Crohn’s disease can’t stop Shane

Kate FieldingSouth Western Times
Bunbury father and primary school teacher Shane Maher is fighting back against Crohn’s disease.
Camera IconBunbury father and primary school teacher Shane Maher is fighting back against Crohn’s disease. Credit: Jon Gellweiler / South Western Times

A Bunbury father is shaking off any ignominy around a disease many are reluctant to speak out about with an ultimate goal of finding a cure.

Shane Maher was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease at the age of 26.

“My life is different, I have to be mindful at all times of my condition,” the now 32-year-old said.

“I can do everyday tasks but have no energy left for anything social or sporting as my anaemia is a big challenge.

“From the outside I might look OK, but it can mask what is happening inside of me.”

It is easy to see how Shane appears to be living a normal, healthy life.

He has been happily married to the love of his life, Dana, for nearly seven years and the couple have two beautiful children together.

Shane has his dream job as a teacher at Parkfield Primary School — a career inspired by a teacher who helped him as he struggled through human biology in his school years.

“He made a difference, so I always wanted to do that, make an impact in kids’ lives,” Shane said.

“As long as I’m teaching, I’m happy.”

Bunbury father and primary school teacher Shane Maher is fighting back against Crohn’s disease.
Camera IconBunbury father and primary school teacher Shane Maher is fighting back against Crohn’s disease. Credit: Jon Gellweiler / South Western Times

But just as it is easy to perceive Shane as the average healthy human being, the everyday challenges he faces are just as obvious as he opens up about the disease.

“It affects everyone different, so for me I always have this beautiful white complexion,” Shane said with a smirk.

“I get anaemia, so I lose blood a lot, so every couple of weeks I get an iron infusion.

“Crohn’s is tough, but I find that probably harder — it’s like chronic fatigue in a way so you’re just knackered, you do your normal day and then you’re knackered.”

Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are life-long gastrointestinal disorders most commonly diagnosed in young people who have no choice but to self-manage throughout their lives.

There is no cure.

But Shane is doing his part to help change that including last month completing Crohn’s & Colitis Australia’s Live Fearless Challenge, which involves 150km of walking or running.

Teaming up with his entire family, Shane well and truly smashed that challenge.

“Our team did 1184km so I’m pretty happy, and I did 211km, so I did all right for the old bod,” Shane laughed.

Shane’s team also raised $7585 — the second-highest amount in the country for the challenge.

It is Shane’s five-year-old daughter Anabel and three-year-old son Wyatt who are now inspiring him to speak up.

“I haven’t really talked about it before,” Shane said.

“It’s a little bit of an embarrassing disease.

“But obviously since I’ve had kids, it can be genetic — not that I got it genetically, none of us have had it — so it’s more about getting it out there now.

There is no cure and in case any of them got it ... just to get money for research to hopefully either find a better way of managing the disease or maybe a cure one day.”

Despite the challenges, Shane considers himself lucky thanks to the support of his family.

“I’ve been very lucky, I’ve got mum and dad, I’ve got all the in-laws down here as well,” he said.

And it is his daughter who is perhaps Shane’s biggest rock.

“It sounds bad, but out of everyone she gets me the most — kids can be good for that so I’m lucky to have her, she’s a good sensitive soul and she looks after me,” he said.

Shane said he hoped to educate more people about the disease and encouraged others to speak up about it.

“Talk to others with the illness, you learn a lot and can relate to what they are going through,” he said.

“It can make you feel better.

“No pun intended, but always go with your gut instincts, you know your body the best, so always seek a second opinion if you feel like you are getting nowhere with your specialist or if things don’t seem right.”

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