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UNIVERSAL CITY : Luncheon to Benefit Colitis Foundation

October 20, 1994|ED BOND

For three years, doctors were stumped. At first, they told Valerie Krasner that her daughter was anorexic. Then, they thought it was some type of cancer, then a blood disorder.

"They went through all kinds of testing," said Krasner, a Woodland Hills resident whose 26-year-old daughter has had Crohn's disease for 11 years.

The little-known disease causes the intestines to narrow to the point that food digestion becomes painful. Krasner's daughter, Jodi, an interior designer has had part of her intestines narrow to the size of spaghetti.

Crohn's and a related disease, ulcerative colitis, can produce a wide range of symptoms such as diarrhea, cramps, fever, pain, joint aches and infections, Krasner said.

Krasner is president of the San Fernando chapter of the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America, which represents 1,200 people throughout the Valley and from as far away as Bakersfield. The group is holding a fund-raising luncheon Sunday at the Universal Sheraton Hotel in Universal City.

"We have a problem because not a lot of people know about it (the disease)," said Barbara Price of Woodland Hills, who is co-chairwoman of the luncheon. Three hundred people are expected to attend.

Price has a daughter, 29, who was found to have colitis at 18. With the condition believed to be hereditary, Price said she is very concerned about finding a treatment. "I now have two infant grandsons and I am hoping they won't have to suffer from this."

With ulcerative colitis, unlike common ulcers which form in the stomach, a hole forms in the intestine, Krasner said.

Veronica Schweitzer of Tarzana, the other co-chairwoman for Sunday's event, suffered the symptoms of Crohn's disease for 15 years before the disease was finally diagnosed six years ago. Doctors had told her it was a nervous stomach, a congenital anomaly related to a pregnancy, and a hernia before they finally made the proper diagnosis.

"I was relieved when they finally diagnosed me," said Schweitzer, whose disease has been in remission since part of her bowel was removed almost six years ago.

The luncheon, dubbed "Reach for the Stars," is the third annual fund-raising event for the local chapter. Donations or inquiries to the chapter can be made at P.O. Box 1305, Woodland Hills, 91364, or by calling (818) 999-0448.

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