Actor James Van Der Beek is spearheading a new campaign to highlight a disease his mother, a former Broadway dancer, was too embarrassed to talk about.
The ex-Dawson's Creek star has become the celebrity spokesman for the Voices of UC campaign, which aims to raise awareness about a condition called ulcerative colitis and he reveals he's doing it for his mum.
He tells WENN, "It is a condition that my mother suffered from in silence for years. My mother initially kept her UC diagnosis a secret from most of our family because she was embarrassed and felt uncomfortable talking about it. My dad actually told me.
"It's a chronic condition of the digestive system and affects over 500,000 Americans. It can be very painful and one of the major side effects is it makes people who suffer from it wary of wandering too far from the nearest bathroom.
"It's not something that people like to talk about but it's important that they're honest with their doctors. They just conducted a survey where they found that a third of people who have ulcerative colitis were first misdiagnosed and then it took on average a year and a half and three different doctors to find the right diagnosis and get some treatment.
"Through my involvement in the Voices of UC programme, I hope to raise awareness of UC and encourage those who suffer in secret and in silence, like my mom, to speak up about their condition with their families and friends and, most important, their physicians."