During his rookie year in New England, Light was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. The first symptoms appeared five years earlier during his freshman year at Purdue University.

A turn for the worse

The symptoms intensified in 2001 when Light started playing for the Patriots. That is when doctors at Boston hospitals diagnosed him with Crohn’s disease.

“That was the first time a doctor had used the words ‘Crohn’s disease.’” Light said.

“You have to gain knowledge and understand how your body reacts. It goes back to seeking the knowledge and being positive about your position no matter what it is.”

Light said he decided to tackle the disease by learning everything he could about it. Doctors suggested he take a number of drugs, many of which had side effects such as making bones more brittle. This wasn’t an option for a professional football player.

Instead, Light decided to take charge of the disease by altering his diet. Despite this change, Light had an attack in 2003 that resulted in surgery that removed 13 inches of his intestine.

Staying positive

After 30 days in the hospital and another 30 recovering, he was back on the field.

“You really have to go out there and understand how Crohn’s affects you,” he said. “There’s no same story. It affects every person differently.”

Light discusses the power diet and positive thinking had on him handling the disease — as he didn’t start taking medications until 2012.

“You have to gain knowledge and understand how your body reacts,” he said. “It goes back to seeking the knowledge and being positive about your position no matter what it is.”