Casey Abrams, whose smooth, bluesy singing style impressed American Idol season 10 fans and judges, was hospitalized during the show for complications of ulcerative colitis, a chronic condition he was diagnosed with in college, but hadn’t revealed to the public.

"When I was diagnosed with UC in college, I was scared that I wouldn't be able to balance my health and my music. I could barely find the energy to walk to class, let alone carry a bass around campus," Casey reveals to In Touch. "But I decided UC was just an obstacle I had to rise above in order to pursue making music. I want to let people know that if you stay positive and have the courage to ask for the help you need early on, anyone can live beyond this disease."

Casey has accomplished a great deal to live his dream of becoming a singer. Today, Casey has teamed up with the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA) for IBD Icons (www.IBDIcons.com) to inspire people living with inflammatory bowel diseases to pursue their dreams. Hoping to spread awareness (and even pledging to shave his signature beard), it appears Casey is an ideal role model and advocate for those living with the disease.

“I hope to show people that you can have a disease that’s very graphic, debilitating, or maybe even embarrassing to talk about, and do what you want to do in life,” he shares. “You don’t have to let it take over you. You take over it. Stand up to it. Rise above it.”

For Casey, learning to say “no” was a major step in discovering how to live with UC.

“I was always a 'yes' guy. ‘Hey want to hang out, even though it’s midnight? Let’s do it!’ But having to say no to [music producer] Jimmy Iovine and make my own decisions; it gave me less stress to deal with… [and] got my UC under control.”

And although the American Idol tour has come to an end, for Casey, the future is a bright one. “My first album is going to be rock 'n' roll with an upright bass!”