Kerin Rose Gold Lost Her Colon And Saved Herself, One Jewel At A Time

For the legendary bespoke bejeweler, all that glitters isn’t gold but, rather, the cure.


There have only been two phone calls in my life that have truly freaked me out.

In 2009, I woke up to a random UK number at 7AM on a Sunday. It was Rihanna, just saying hi! That was the good one. Three years later, my gastroenterologist called to tell me I needed to get my colon removed. That was the bad one.

Doctors don’t just ring you up all willy-nilly to explain why they need to take out your large intestine. A decade earlier, I was diagnosed with a severe case of Ulcerative Colitis. (If hot girls have IBS, the really hot ones have Chrons or Colitis). My body railed against me by covering my colon in massive ulcers, which made me feel like I was perpetually digesting glass. It caused massive internal bleeding… I’d tell you to use your imagination, but to make the gravity of this situation clear, I was violently shitting out a dangerous amount of blood on a daily basis. In hindsight, I spent most of my twenties on the verge of death.

In 2008, after dozens of therapies all failed, a brand-new infusion drug called Remicade promised to cure me. And might also kill me! I signed the fuck up. I wanted to live, even if I had to die trying. Spoiler alert: it worked! Sure, I had a predictable post-traumatic breakdown and got fired from my day job. But in the process of figuring out my life, I started making some sunglasses that changed the present-day eyewear field in such a dramatic way that I have a Diet Prada-worthy folder on my desktop of knockoffs from fast fashion companies, billion-dollar social media brands, and even your favorite racist high-fashion Italian design duo. That’s showbiz, baby!

“In hindsight, I spent most of my twenties on the verge of death. ”

My hand-made designs were taking off, and I was flying high. The disease that once controlled every waking moment of my life was instantly reduced to a series of infusions every few weeks and a yearly colonoscopy. In the spring of 2011, I got my guts checked and waited for the routine follow-up call from my doctor… and you know what happened next.

There’s no great time to get that phone call. But if I could have picked the worst possible moment, April 2011 would have been it. A-Morir, my embellished eyewear collection turned buzzy accessory brand was blowing up with clients like Gaga, Katy, and Rihanna (that early morning “Hello” was for a reason!). I was selected by Vogue Italia to be honored as a “New Talent” that coming September. I was turning 28 and getting flown to LA by MTV the following week. I was happy and healthy for the first time in my adult life! But after that call from my GI, I once again woke up every morning freaking the fuck out.

Your girl was doing Simone Biles-level mental gymnastics to wrap my head around this to-do list: survive two surgeries, design a new collection, and fly to Europe with a colostomy bag. Back then, Instagram was strictly for Valencia-filtered photos of food, Twitter was for quippy status updates, and Facebook was for egregiously large photo albums of every dumb night out. We weren’t posting mental health awareness infographics — I had nobody to talk to. So, I prepared for surgery by distracting myself with as much work as possible, even pulling an all-nighter the night before my procedure. My freak-out peaked as I was wheeled into the operating room, sobbing uncontrollably at the thought that I might never wake up.

But… I did! The removal was a success. My recovery process was, hands down, the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do, both physically and emotionally. I couldn’t go anywhere and didn’t talk to anyone for six weeks. During that time, I somehow designed one of my favorite collections, made it to Milan, and met Anna Wintour while attached to my aforementioned shit bag (thank you for your service, shitbag!) I was included in Lady Gaga’s Barney’s holiday popup and finished the 400-piece order from my hospital bed after my colostomy reversal. My dad had to drive me to New Jersey to deliver all those boxes because my intestinal cramps gave me involuntary leg spasms, and I was too embarrassed to ask my studio assistants or even my best friends for help. I spent the next several months feeling like I had food poisoning every day while my body adapted to its newly reconstructed insides. I lost the ability to fart. I miss it every day!

This is a lot, I know, but I’m giving you the TMI for a reason. First, to let you know that life is amazing. Being alive — and physically and mentally healthy — is so fucking cool. My story had a happy ending. While I wouldn’t wish that experience on my worst enemy (I have a short list!), it made me a kinder, more empathetic, and more compassionate person. You can’t choose the majority of what happens to you in life, but you can choose the lessons you take away. And I learned a lot about freaking out. If I could survive that, I could survive anything. And none of my stress or existential angst made it go by any faster. In fact, it had the opposite effect.qw

“I spent the next several months feeling like I had food poisoning every day while my body adapted to its newly reconstructed insides. I lost the ability to fart. I miss it every day!”

Pick a number between, let’s say, two and seven. (My go-to is five.) When you start to panic, ask yourself: “Will this matter in five minutes? What about five hours? How about in five weeks? In five months, will I even care? In five years, will I even remember?” I’m willing to bet that 99% of the time, the answer is “no” by the time you get to the weeks. Definitely the years. This really helps to put awkward crushes, weird social interactions or anything else you might normally spiral out or fixate on into perspective. Most of the time, everything will be okay! And if you’re still stressed, talk to someone! There’s no reason to freak out alone, even if you have to get your colon removed.

But if Rih gives a ring, all bets are off…

More Articles: