By NICOLE NIGRO
Timothy Bardakjy, a 22 recent college grad from Hawthorne, N.J. struggles to live a normal life due to his chronic disease, Crohn’s. With tiny hindrances that make his life difficult, Bardakjy keeps a smile on his face through rigorous surgeries, treatments, medications and pain.
Crohn’s Disease is an attack on the body’s immune system located in the digestive system. When consuming food, the body thinks the food is a foreign object and begins to attack itself, leading to inflammation and a weak immune system. This disease can be debilitating, but for Tim Bardakjy, a 22 year old recent college grad its just an opportunity to share the Gospel and live a happy life.
Bardakjy, though inflicted with Crohn’s disease, refuses to live his life any other way than with joyfulness and faithfulness.
“I feel like i’m being tested with this disease. How strong can i be? Will i turn my back on God? Just like Job [a prophet in the Bible] i pray that i am courageous enough to praise God in these circumstances,” Bardakjy said. Through painful days Bardakjy uses disease to help others.
Diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease at the young age of 14, Bardakjy lives his life to the fullest though his average day, though in silent painful struggle. But he does so with a belief in his faith.
Bardakjy is among the 1.4 million people suffering from IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease, which Crohn’s falls under). One most famously, former President Dwight D. Eisenhower.
Bardakjy was just beginning high school when he was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease.
“It started to become really painful when I would use the bathroom. I told my mom, because she is a nurse, and she took me to my pediatrician. Unfortunately he didn’t know the exact diagnosis so he sent me to a GI specialist at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in Manhattan,” Bardakjy said.
According to Dr. Andrea Centrella-Nigro, a nurse and nursing instructor, the average age of Crohn’s discover is around 14-20 years old.
“I was sitting at the table during dinner after visiting the hospital the day before, and the phone rang,” Bardakjy said. “My mom answered the phone and listened as I stood there anxious. She hung up the phone and I knew right at that moment it was serious. My heart sunk.”
Bardakjy’s treatment included three surgeries. The first surgery was performed on December 2006 where around 6 inches of his small intestine was removed and a colostomy bag was placed. The second surgery was on December 2009, in which the colostomy bag was reversed. Lastly this past October 2013, Bardakjy endured another surgery taking a few more inches of his large intestine.
“We just decided recently to start a new course of treatment called Remicade. It’s similar to chemo treatments,” Bardakjy said.
Dr. Nigro adds, “The remicade helps the immune system so it doesn’t attack the food digested. Like chemo, it rids the bad stuff in a similar way.”
Faith Helps Barakjy Cope
Bardakjy’s Crohn’s disease does not keep him from living a normal life. Friends from his youth group, church, and school have gone years without even knowing of his chronic disease and for Bardakjy that is due to his strong faith.
“I’ve been friends with Tim for many years now.” Richie Tienken, 21 from Queens, N.Y. said. “I remember hearing the devastating news and thought that he would be a different kid because of it. Instead he’s not only the same kid, but he is always joyful and full of life.
Being the youngest of three, Bardakjy grew up in a quaint Christian home. He attended Hawthorne public school and played sports as well as attending his church youth group. He leads a college and career youth group at Grace Bible Church where he guides his peers through the Bible.
“My favorite verse to live by is James 1:2-4. 2 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.”
“An average day for me would seem annoying and tedious to most.” Bardakjy said. “It begins with me taking my medications and making sure I stick to a strict diet. Also, every time I go into a new place I have to look for a bathroom and make sure I know exactly where it is.”
“Tim has inspired me to appreciate my life. The fact that i didn’t know he had a disease baffles me and makes me realize that there is so much more to life. I feel like anything bad that happens to me can be overcome, thanks to Tim,” Tienken said.
“After meeting Tim [Bardakjy] for the first time, i was fully aware of his pure heart and completely unaware of his disease,” Michelle Reinstra, 21 from North Haledon said. “He’s just so brave and i admire him.”
A Hopeful Future
With a new medical plan and the hopes for a cure, Bardakjy lives his life looking forward to a bright future.
“With Tim’s condition is is very rare to find such a spiritual, and positive person with a chronic disease,” Dr Nigro says, “most patients see a chronic disease as a death sentence and live their life accordingly. He also benefits from having a nurse as a mom!”
Bardakjy currently works at GNC in Paramus N.J. and volunteers his time teaching a college and career Bible study at Grace Bible Church.
“I just graduated from Cedarville University with a major in accounting and finance,” Bardakjy said. “My plan is to get a job, get married, have children, and live a life God has planned for me.”
“I know one day I will be in a better state. There will be no more pain and I will have a perfect body.,” Bardakjy said.
[WATCH: Tim Bardakjy’s life story]