Ohio State sophomore creates organization for students with chronic health disorders
There are more than 1,400 clubs and organizations on the Ohio State University campus but not one of them offers support or help for students living with chronic health disorders until now. Chronically at OSU is an organization created by a second-year student at the university who wanted to help others like her have access to peer support and other resources they need to thrive.
“It’s just something I realized was needed and I decided to do it,” said Lindsay Drumm, an OSU student from Heath, Ohio.
Drumm is by all accounts a typical college student- very busy, active and constantly on the go, but something you can’t easily see is something that she struggles with nearly every day.
“In the fall of 2020, right, as I got on campus, I had had some different medical conditions. And so I went to the doctor and I was diagnosed with either lupus or Sojourns, “ she said.
Drumm's medical issues continued but so did her responsibilities as a second-year in Molecular Genetics major.
“It was kind of difficult, you know, it was already in a really pivotal time in my life. And then I was trying to deal with that, and like, you know, it's a chronic illness. So it's not just okay, I'll just get better, it was grappling with, okay, this is what my life's looking like, “ said Drumm.
As she worked to figure out how to deal with her medical concerns and her books she began to wonder how many other students on campus were struggling and juggling, feeling like they were all alone in dealing with all this. Then she was struck again with another medical diagnosis.
“During this past fall, I was being tested for things like Cushing's which is caused by like a tumor. So for like three months, I thought that I could have a really small tumor,” she said.
She learned she didn’t have a tumor but was diagnosed with PCOS, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome another chronic but manageable disorder, but another obstacle to navigate. Drumm knew right then she had a story to tell and so did other multi-tasking college students battling medical issues. It's estimated 7%of college-age students are dealing with a chronic illness.
“You know everyone has their own their own thing and their own struggles. And I think that it's natural, especially in the current world , that we often disregard that about people, we dehumanize one another, and we just try to get through our own day,” said Drumm.
Unseen stories was born as a way for students to share their stories with their peers online,but Drumm knew there was a need for even more. Using the organizational skills honed at her high school in Heath, she founded 'Chronically@OSU', a first of its kind group on the campus for students with chronic illnesses.
“And so, I founded this club, we just got approved, we're on the Ohio State website. Our first meeting is March 24. And I already have 29 new members, I've had people reach out to me and just thank me for founding this group. I've had alumni reach out. I posted on Reddit and it became a trending Reddit post on the OSU reddit forum,” said Lindsay.
Lindsay‘s mom, Angie Drumm is not surprised at all her daughter has taken on another challenge with her already very full plate.
“She’s been that way since she was little. She started walking at nine months and has not stopped since then. So, she's always been involved in everything she did. She started after I believe three years old. By the time she was in kindergarten, we had like five classes, which was crazy. But we've never really told her she couldn't do anything,“ said Angie Drumm.
Angie Drumm said her daughter was deeply impacted by the school shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland Florida when she was freshman in high school. She started a group that took a hard look at school safety and her efforts led to measures still used in the district today.
“She's just always wanted to do something. She's always the kid that had the underdog kind of with her. She'd always look out for those that you know, sitting by themselves. I think she was used to kind of being more of an outsider. She just knows what she wants. And she goes after it. And being at Ohio State is no different, “she said.
Lindsay believes in always leaving a place better than it was when you arrived and that's why with the help of Suzanne Snyder whose daughter Allison, a high school freshman and a fellow pageant queen who was also diagnosed with a chronic illness said she was immediately onboard. Lindsay's vision for Chronically@OSU is to grow it beyond the campus and into the community.
“And Lindsay just immediately took to Alie. They connected and you know, we connected with her mom. There were a few times that Lindsay was going through some things and knowing we were going through some things, it brought Lindsay and Allie to a different place together,“ said Snyder.
Drumm's passion is already spreading beyond Ohio State. She has planned a 5K to raise money for Autism in the Spring all while rolling out her new organization and making sure everyone who wants to tell their story gets a chance.
“If she doesn't have 10 irons in the fire at a time, she doesn't know what to do. She is constantly doing things like that, “said the proud mom.
For Lindsay, the joy of helping others gives her purpose.
“ I think I never expected to already be this far. But it's definitely like a sense of belonging. Like I wake up, I know what I need to do. I know the reason why I'm doing it. “said Lindsay.
She plans to keep creating resources and helping others in any way she can.