By Ed Pfueller, UOAA Communications Manager

Taylor Mitchell and Michael Ross

It was raining every day, for weeks, before Taylor and Michael were set to get married. But as the recently wed couple stepped out of the church for photos, only the sun was shining, a distant mountain range framed their joy – the chilly Alaskan rain held off.

“It was an absolutely magical day,” says Taylor, the bride. “Taylor took my breath away when I saw her, she was absolutely stunning,” Michael recalls.

Even if the dark clouds had drenched their special day, it’s doubtful it would have dampened their mood. This specific couple is used to living with ostomies and chronic illness and they seem prepared to weather any storm.

Friends from the Start

Taylor and Michael first met ten years ago in a local college undergrad class. “I scanned the room, saw him, thought he was cute, and decided I wanted to sit by him and try to be friends. I didn’t know if anything would come of our friendship. We had a great connection as friends, Taylor recalls.

“She was smart, insightful, and easy on the eyes, but I would never have imagined she was interested in me beyond friendship,” Michael says.

The friendship slowly turned into dating. “We have a lot in common and also have a lot of differences. I love to plan, and she is more spontaneous. We both respect each other and can be vulnerable with each other, and the biggest thing is we trust each other,” Michael says.

Taylor says some things she loves about Michael is that he understands her and that they have a shared faith. “He always wants to help me any way he can, and he’s generous to others,” she says.

What is an Ostomy?

“While we were dating, I didn’t know Michael had an ostomy for a while and when he did tell me, I had no idea what it was,” Taylor says. “His ostomy was never an issue for me and so my experience while dating was positive! His ostomy never impacted anything in our relationship from my perspective.”

Michael has had a long ostomy journey and awareness, his mother had a urostomy. ”I had a colostomy for about two years, takedown for four, and have had a permanent ileostomy for the past fifteen years due to complications with Crohn’s disease,” he says.

“I didn’t date much before I met Taylor but had no negative experiences when I did date. Taylor was very understanding when I told her (and showed her) about my ostomy. She was very understanding and seemed eager to learn more.”

“My advice would be, if you’re a person who doesn’t have an ostomy and finds yourself dating someone with an ostomy, educate yourself and do your best to understand your partner, their limitations (if any), and then just treat them as a regular person!” Taylor says.

Taylor also advises that if you have an ostomy and find yourself with someone who doesn’t have an ostomy. “Give the partner an opportunity to accept you and make the choice for themselves on what they’re comfortable with. You’re not for everyone and that’s ok and vice versa! I think it will always be slightly nerve-wracking to have a body that isn’t “normal” by current beauty standards because of the fear of rejection and embarrassment, Taylor says. “Society tends to tell us that no one will want us if there’s something “wrong” with us. But, if you can muster the courage to put yourself out there, the outcome may be better than you ever imagined!”

I don’t think we will have any more challenges than the average couple… we just poop differently. -Michael Ross

In Sickness and in Health

Caregiving has been a consistent part of Taylor and Michael’s relationship. “When Michael had to have revision surgery, I wanted to make sure he’d have easily accessible food so he could focus on healing. I came over to his house prior to surgery and we made a few different meals to freeze. It was a great feeling for me that we got to spend time together cooking and his food would be taken care of while he recovered. He was used to taking care of himself so it meant a lot to me to do this for him.”

Meanwhile, Taylor started dealing with her own undiagnosed chronic illness. “I had to go to the Mayo Clinic while we were dating, and he took time off of work to come with me for a week. He came to all my appointments and helped me navigate all my emotions with what I was dealing with. This is the kind of thing we do for each other, we try to make the hard times easier by taking care of the small things and the big things,” she says.

Just a year and a half ago Taylor, with her health worsening Taylor had ostomy surgery as a result of chronic constipation. For better or worse they were now an ostomate couple.

A Couple of Ostomates

After her ostomy surgery, Taylor says she, “shared with him every single aspect of what I was going through. It was nice to be with someone who already knew! It felt good from my perspective to understand him better, now that we had the same appliance… I actually knew first-hand what he was dealing with.”

Michael says that one of the best parts of being with another ostomate is knowing that someone really understands what you are going through. “It’s nice to be able to compare notes on new products and understand when my partner isn’t feeling well, to have the option to share supplies, tag along to doctor’s appointments, and ask questions about care, procedures, and recovery,” he says.

In addition to a new mutual understanding of health issues, Taylor says, “We know what to do if one of us isn’t feeling well. We just understand each other on a deeper level. He accepts me as an individual and he accepts my body even as it changes with all my health challenges.”

It felt good from my perspective to understand him better, now that we had the same appliance… I actually knew first-hand what he was dealing with. -Taylor Mitchell

As for difficulties, they both dread a possible double leak at night, and can imagine the challenge of not feeling well at the same time or needing a procedure around the same time. Taylor says the most challenging part has been encouraging the other to stick to the foods that work for us, to drink water more consistently, and get our electrolytes in.” Michael concludes, “I don’t think we will have any more challenges than the average couple… we just poop differently.”

Finding Community and Support

Even with partner support, Taylor says “UOAA has been so incredibly important to me in my ostomy journey. When I first got my ostomy, I scoured the UOAA website and read every piece of information I could find which helped ease my mind and answer my questions. UOAA’s website also helped me to be able to share information about my ostomy with family and friends.”

The couple, who both work in logistics, has recently moved to Colorado but while in Alaska both say they had the good fortune of having Luella Odmark as their WOC nurse.

“Luella is an amazing individual who cares so deeply about ostomates,” Taylor says. She does a training for nurses at one of our hospitals and has invited my husband and I to speak to the class about our ostomy history, give advice on what we wish we had from nurses, doctors, and hospital staff as well as sharing some of our favorite products,” she adds.

“I enjoyed observing the transformation of two people pursuing their own interests, coming together, including getting married, now mentoring others about ostomies,” says  Odmark, a WOC Nurse and the leader of the Anchorage Ostomy Support Group. “I hope to see them continue to spread hope about living with an ostomy,” Odmark adds.

Odmark also joins the couple each Ostomy Awareness Day to walk the Run for Resilience Ostomy 5k. The experience was especially meaningful to Taylor. “The Ostomy 5k was a huge accomplishment the first time I did it because I was three months post op and it was a huge struggle for me to walk a 5k, I almost didn’t finish it and wanted to give up so many times. Taylor continues, “My second time, this year, it was still a hard thing for me to accomplish but I did so much better! I loved seeing people from all over doing their 5k however was comfortable for them. It was encouraging!”

 

UOAA has been so incredibly important to me in my ostomy journey. -Taylor Mitchell

Taylor is especially open about her ostomy journey and embraces Ostomy Awareness Day as a chance to connect with more people online and see their stories. “It’s such a nice feeling to know that I am not alone. I see people who are confident with their ostomy and I see people who are working to build their confidence,” Taylor says.

Taylor hopes to help even more people and nurses through UOAA outreach opportunities. “I love UOAA’s mission, I love the work they do, and I love all the resources that are available for FREE so financial barriers are removed for as many people as possible. Accessibility is so important! I am proud to be a supporter of UOAA.”

Michael agrees and adds, “I’m very thankful for all of the people that organize the walk, work with ostomates, and are around to help us on our ostomy journey. I’m most thankful for my wife, who I get to take this journey with every day.”

 

By Ed Pfueller, UOAA Communications and Outreach Manager

The ostomy community is a big group with diverse medical backgrounds, ages, and attitudes about living with an ostomy. One thing almost everyone can agree on is that ostomy and continent diversion surgery saves lives. We all hope for a day when no one who has an ostomy feels alone in life. Ostomy Awareness Day is Saturday, October 1, 2022 ­and however you are most comfortable participating – you can have an impact. Your voice matters and now is the time to use it or support others who do. 

If You’re Supportive but Busy

I had very little to go on, more to learn than I realized, and felt somewhat lost and well, scared. Discovering United Ostomy Associations of America (UOAA) when searching online for ostomy organizations and associations was a relief and godsend. -Myrna Pair

A couple of clicks is all it takes to put a smile on the face of a resilient ostomate or dedicated ostomy nurse. Check out the heartwarming stories of those on the Run for Resilience fundraising pages. Many of them still need a donation. The Ostomy 5k is the biggest fundraiser of the year for the programs and services offered by UOAA, a national 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization. We have not met the Virtual Ostomy 5k fundraising goal of $25,000. Donating to UOAA, whenever you have the means, helps to sustain our small but powerful national ostomy organization’s work to improve the quality of life for people living with an ostomy, all year long.

If You’re Active on Social Media

Great, stop scrolling and go share your #OstomiesAreLifesavers story today! Even if you have never talked about it publicly before, consider letting your social networks know the things you have been able to do and witness in life after surgery. Help dispel stigmas and fear surrounding ostomy surgery, you never know which of your connections may have an ostomy or be faced with surgery someday. Post a photo, video or story and tag or DM @UOAA and use the hashtag #OstomiesAreLifesavers and #OstomyDay2022

Another quick and easy way to share your ostomy story is to complete the This or That Ostomy Edition, tag uoaa and post it to your stories.

If You’d Rather Work Behind the Scenes

You don’t have to post ostomy bikini pics to be an effective advocate. Anyone can call or send our action alerts to their elected officials. The U.S. Congress has designated official days for mountain biking and cowboys but not for Ostomy Awareness. This is because of a lack of congressional co-sponsors. Congressman Donald Payne (NJ) is introducing a Congressional House Resolution designating October 1, 2022 as National Ostomy Awareness Day and needs co-sponsors and/or support for this resolution. Contact your Congressperson and ask them to become a cosponsor, by contacting Shahryar M. Baig on his staff at shahryar.baig@mail.house.gov. You can take action here on all of our advocacy campaigns.

These @delta #flightattendants and #pilot were 100% on board to support #OstomyDay2022  – Peenelopie was very excited that the pilot got to hold her! (courtesy Stomagienics)

If You Just Want to Have Some Fun While Raising Awareness

Consider printing out our Ostomy Pouch Character name it, and take pics of it wherever you go Flat Stanley style; send us your pics or post on social media. To make it even easier use our Giphy stickers found here (or search @UOAA_Ostomy)

You can still register for an in-person Run for Resilience Event near you on Saturday (Birmingham is Oct. 8) and join what is often a party atmosphere of music, sponsor tables, food and games – in addition to walking/running. 

Also be sure to wear a stoma sticker from Hollister, the Exclusive Diamond Sponsor of UOAA’s Run for Resilience. Check out all the ways you can celebrate with Hollister.

If You Want to Get More Educated or Educate Others

If you want to get some WOC Nurse level information you’re in luck on October 1st. The WOCN Society is offering an education day event open to everyone free of charge.

For a more Ostomy 101 level of learning use our advocacy tools and infographics as a handout or post online. Feel free to use any of our materials on emotional support, ostomy myths, j-pouches or more.

The day after Ostomy Awareness Day you can also learn more about ostomies and mental health during a Facebook live event hosted by Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation in partnership with UOAA. 

 If You Want to Keep the Awareness Going All Month/Year Long

Here at UOAA we work on National Advocacy all year long. Sign-up for our advocacy action alerts and Monthly E-Newsletter. There is power in numbers, become a national individual member and be counted as an official member of UOAA’s ostomy community. You’ll also get a membership and stoma pin and among other benefits.

New this year, Convatec is planning “Ostober” to focus on ostomy awareness all month long. They are the Platinum Sponsor of our Run for Resilience Ostomy 5k and we’re thrilled to see them keeping the spirit alive all month long.

 

 

Visit our Ostomy Awareness Day landing page for more information this special day. Whatever you choose to do please let us know! If you have pictures, proclamations or stories to share send them to us at info@ostomy.org and don’t forget #OstomiesAreLifesavers

 

Hollister is proud to support Ostomy Awareness Day! In partnership with United Ostomy Associations of America (UOAA), Hollister Incorporated is proud to stand with the entire ostomy community in celebration. Here are some ways you can learn something new, show your support, or connect with others in the global ostomy community.

Show Off Your Stoma Sticker

Stoma Stickers are a great way to raise awareness, start a conversation, or show support. Request your free stoma sticker today! For more opportunities to connect online, check out the Hollister Incorporated digital stickers pack on Instagram to enhance your Instagram posts and stories. Share a picture with yours on social media, using the hashtags #StomaSticker, #OAD2022, and #OstomateVoices.

Thriving After Ostomy Surgery

To help people who haven’t yet had ostomy surgery better understand what life really looks like on the other side, we’ve teamed up with Alive & Kicking to answer five key questions about life with an ostomy. Share this website with others still adjusting to their stoma. Or, share how you thrive by telling us what other questions or experiences you would add!

Kids Ask: What is a Stoma?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

People often wonder what to say to others, especially to children or grandchildren, when they first learn about an ostomy. While what kids ask can sometimes be surprising, their sincerity can brighten your day. We brought kids and ostomates together to learn about stomas for the first time. Hear what they had to say.

For more resources and interactive ways to get involved, visit the Hollister Ostomy Awareness Day page.

 

(Editor’s note: Hollister Incorporated is the Exclusive Diamond Sponsor of this year’s Run for Resilience Ostomy 5k. Their support helps make these UOAA ostomy awareness events possible)

By Robin Glover

The Run for Resilience Ostomy 5k is set to return for its eighth year beginning on Ostomy Awareness Day, October 1, 2022. This year’s event will feature both in-person races around the U.S. and the worldwide Virtual Ostomy 5k. Individuals and teams will be running, rolling, or walking to raise money and show their support for the critical programs and services of United Ostomy Associations of America (UOAA).

Ostomies Are Life-Savers

No matter their story, there are two things all ostomates have in common: incredible resilience and a life saved or much improved by ostomy or continent diversion surgery. The Run for Resilience 5k is a celebration of that. And while every participant can get a run t-shirt with “Ostomies are Life-Savers” emblazoned on the front, each of them have their own stories and reasons why.

For Sydney, a 23-year-old living with an ileostomy, she’s participating and fundraising for the Virtual Ostomy 5k to share the story of how ostomy surgery saved her life. She also wants to serve as an inspiration to other young people facing similar challenges and let them know they can “live the life they want because of the ostomy bag” and not in spite of it. Sydney exemplifies the resilience of the ostomy community.

Liz exemplifies that resilience, too. A month and a half after being diagnosed with bladder cancer, she underwent a radical cystectomy (bladder removal) with a total hysterectomy and stoma placement. Liz is now an advocate who wants everyone to know that her urostomy saved her life. She and a fellow UOAA Support Group leader are hosting a Virtual 5k walk in Cincinnati  because “we are living proof that ostomies are lifesavers and that you can have a fulfilling life with an ostomy.”

The need for an ostomy or other continent diversion isn’t always directly due to a medical condition. Stefphanie was hit by a drunk driver and underwent eleven surgeries in the two weeks following the crash and required both an ileostomy and a mucous fistula. Though hesitant to talk about it at first, she’s now thriving and wants to share her story to inspire others.

If you don’t want to run or walk yourself, consider shining a light on this resilience by supporting the fundraisers of people like these.

In Person Events Are Back This Year!

In addition to the Virtual Ostomy 5k which can be held anywhere by anyone, in-person Run for Resilience 5k events are back this year!

These events are family-friendly gatherings and a chance to share ostomy awareness in communities all around the country. Most events take place on beautiful parkland or waterfront trails. They also all feature an opportunity to visit with ostomy product representatives in person and visit other event sponsor tables. Race participants will also receive a goodie bag with promotional items and educational materials.

Don’t worry if you are not in running shape ­– do what you can. Walkers outnumber runners at many of these in-person fun runs. More serious runners looking for an event to attend however may want to travel to the Durham, North Carolina Run for Resilience Ostomy 5k as it takes place on a timed and certified 5k course.

Past participant Lianne Weller shared what makes these events special, “The 5k race allows other ostomates to build confidence and breakdown barriers to getting back into physical shape; going one step closer to their goal. I feel more confident and less self-conscious because I’m surrounded by individuals who have all gone through similar obstacles.”

As envisioned by the 5k founders, all locations will get an optional ostomy pouch provided by Exclusive Diamond Sponsor Hollister. Non-ostomates are encouraged to wear their ostomy pouches during the race. (Don’t worry. They’re easy to put on.)

The Arizona Run for Resilience Arizona 5k will have a great new location in Scottsdale on October 1st, 2022, with a 5k run/walk and a fun run for the kids.

The newest in-person event is the Miami, Florida Ostomy 5k taking place at the University of Miami Campus in Coral Gables on Saturday, October 1st, 2022, from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm. Organizer Ana Restrepo says the event will include food, drinks, games, giveaways, and more.

Other in-person Run for Resilience 5k events being held across the country in celebration of Ostomy Awareness Day on Saturday, October 1, 2022 are:

Vancouver, WA

Nashville, TN

Boise, ID

Birmingham, AL (October 8th)

(Please follow each individual link to get more information about times and types of races.)

 “I Intend to Be Victorious”

For every person living with an ostomy or other continent diversion, there’s a story of resilience to go along with it. A virtual participant who goes by Poo and Friends, is working to take their life back one step at a time and they “intend to be victorious.

You can learn more about other participants of each race location or the worldwide virtual by clicking on the circle above their name and reading their story.

Don’t forget to click “Load More Fundraisers” to see them all, including Tanya who’s one of the many wonderful Certified Wound Ostomy Nurses (CWON) and Wound Ostomy Care Nurses (WOCN) taking part in the 2022 Run for Resilience Ostomy 5k.

Share Your Story Too

Are you someone who wants to help break the stigma around ostomies and be an inspiration to others? You’re encouraged to sign up, create your own fundraiser, and share your story. After all, the story of your journey can be what helps someone else make it through theirs.

To participate in the Virtual Ostomy 5k and get this year’s awesome Ostomies Are Lifesavers T-shirt in time for Ostomy Awareness Day you have to register by September 9th.

  • Run, walk, roll or pedal a 5k (3.1 miles) route of your choice. You can even use a treadmill!
  • Take pictures of yourself during your race and email them to info@ostomy.org or message or tag UOAA on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn or TikTok
  • Hashtag your photos with #OstomiesAreLifesavers and #RunforResilience

Friends, family, members of the medical community, and anyone else who wants to support ostomates and celebrate their resilience are also encouraged to donate or create their own fundraiser. Fundraisers will receive special promotional items depending on how much they raise.

Help Support UOAA

Funds raised during the 2022 Run for Resilience Ostomy 5k will support United Ostomy Associations of America (UOAA), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that provides national advocacy, support and resources for the 725,000 to 1 million Americans who have had or will have ostomy or continent diversion surgery. These surgeries are lifesaving and have allowed many people to return to living a healthy life.

To find out more about the Run for Resilience Ostomy 5k please visit www.ostomy.org/5k.

 

Robin Glover is a writer based in the Houston area. He has a permanent ostomy after being diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease in 2017.

Photo Cred:  Dave Camara / Camara Photography

 

By Ed Pfueller, UOAA Communications & Outreach Manager

If you’re looking for Patrick McKinney you’ll likely find him outdoors. Depending on the season, McKinney, 54, of New Market, Maryland, can be found speeding down a ski slope, powering up a hill on his bike, tending to horses, or photographing his daughters playing sports.

That wasn’t always the case.  In 1984, as a 17-year-old, while donating at a high school blood drive, he was found to be anemic. The formerly active teen had been experiencing incontinence with blood loss for 18-24 months and was afraid to tell anyone.  After confiding in his mother and seeking a diagnosis, a colonoscopy revealed ulcerative colitis. By his mid-twenties he found himself hospitalized several times after his body stopped responding to conventional steroid-based therapies.  In 1993 he had the first of five surgeries that over the years eventually led to a temporary ostomy and a j-pouch. He was plagued by stricture problems and other issues with the j-pouch. “With the j-pouch I was still going to the bathroom 15-20 times a day when it was bad,” McKinney remembers. When another surgery was required in 2004 because his j-pouch perforated leaving him septic, his doctor at the Cleveland Clinic prepared him for the fact that depending on how it went, McKinney could wake up with a permanent ileostomy.

“It’s like being a kid again, wind blowing in your hair takes you back to your teenage years”

Indeed that was what happened and he experienced the struggles so many new ostomates have while trying to adjust both mentally and physically. McKinney now says, “Getting an ostomy was the best thing that ever happened to me, I got my life back.”

McKinney credits reading Rolf Bernirschke’s book Alive & Kicking for encouraging him to not be held back by his ostomy. “His book got my life back on a normal track. I started being an advocate and lived life again.” McKinney recalls.

McKinney wrote to Rolf and was honored to receive a Great Comebacks Eastern Region Award in 2008, which included the chance to meet the inspiring former NFL Man of the Year.  Since then he has embraced taking part in sports he had never even tried before having ostomy surgery.

McKinney’s first major post-surgery athletic challenge was competing in a half-marathon in Sonoma, California in 2009. The success of it inspired him to try other competitive sports. A family ski trip to Colorado piqued his interest in alpine ski racing. After entering an amateur event in 2014, he was surprised to learn his time qualified for nationals in his age group. After that he was hooked on “running gates.” McKinney has been alpine racing ever since and is a member of NASTAR’s Team Zardoz and the United Ski And Snowboard Association (USSA) Mid-Atlantic Masters Ski Racing Association and trains at Montage Mountain in Scranton, PA.

During the rest of the year, McKinney can most often be found on his bicycle touring the rolling hills of rural Maryland. As a member of the Frederick (Maryland) Pedalers Bicycle Club he rides over 3000 miles per year including events like the Tour de Frederick and the Civil War Century.

“It’s like being a kid again, wind blowing in your hair takes you back to your teenage years,” he says. For those hesitant to try riding again McKinney advises “Being prepared helps to put your mind at ease.” “Have a plan and know where the bathrooms are at local parks, I empty right before to go out. The back pocket on a cycling jersey is perfect for bringing extra supplies and wipes. My ileostomy tends to not have much output when I’m being active.”

In 2019 McKinney heard that UOAA’s National Conference was coming to Philadelphia, PA and welcomed the opportunity to see Rolf again and check out the unique event. Talking to other ostomates at the conference inspired him to do more with UOAA. “It helped me realize this is a chance to see what I can do, and that it is the right time to get more involved with the Frederick Area Ostomy Support Group.” McKinney has been an active member and is now the group’s President, supporting their activities even as in-person meetings were suspended this past year. In just the past few years he has offered his perspective as an ostomate to nursing students at a local community college and as an ostomy patient visitor. In support of Ostomy Awareness Day, he helped to procure proclamations from local government and organized a walk for the Run for Resilience Ostomy 5k, a major fundraiser for the programs and services of UOAA.

“Getting an ostomy was the best thing that ever happened to me, I got my life back.”

“The biggest thing is to provide some hope.  Almost everyone is devastated and so unsure about how to live through this experience,” McKinney says. On a national level, McKinney is now a member of the United Ostomy Associations of America Education Committee.

“I try to lead through living my best life. Sharing what I can do, but also keeping in mind to listen to your body. Get out there and walk, or ride on a bike.  For most, an ostomy will not impact that, I try to be encouraging and positive.”

His advice for other ostomates looking to get active? “Your only limitation is your mind.  If your doc says you are healthy enough do it, hydrate, hydrate, and always be prepared.”

Embracing Ostomy Advocacy and Giving Back

 

By Angie Davenport

I’ve had my ileostomy for 38 years due to ulcerative colitis but I only recently went public to encourage other ostomates.  Over the years I’ve helped many individuals by word of mouth while keeping my ileostomy private to the outside world. I have always wanted to be a blessing on a wider scope though to others with ostomies.

I was first diagnosed with ulcerative colitis in 1980 when I was three months pregnant.  At first, I thought it was pregnancy symptoms.  After a major episode, I was treated with medication for ulcerative colitis.  My son, James was born a few weeks early due to complications.

After the birth of my son in March of 1981, everything was under control and I eventually relocated from Warren, Ohio to Atlanta, Georgia.  While living in Atlanta I had a major setback with ulcerative colitis and I had to fly back to Ohio immediately and went directly to the hospital.

After several weeks of treatments in the hospital, my doctor came into my hospital room one night and said we have to do surgery or you won’t make it 24 hours.  I’ll never forget my mom crying and praying for God to give her my disease so I could have a normal life.

When I received my permanent ileostomy in March of 1982 I was a young 23-year-old single mom.  It was the day before my son’s first birthday.  I had never heard of an ostomy.  When I woke up in ICU I was devastated, ashamed and frightened.  I thought my life was over.

Once I became strong enough physically and mentally I moved back to Atlanta.  I was still feeling ashamed and frustrated until my physician in Georgia recommended I attend the local United Ostomy Association (the precursor to UOAA) support group.

While living in Atlanta I became very involved with the UOA group and completed the visitor training program.  I enjoyed visiting new ostomates at the hospital. I felt the freedom to be involved because no one really knew me in Atlanta. I remained active until I relocated back to Ohio in 1985.  That same year I married my high school sweetheart and we will celebrate 36 years of marriage in November.

Although I was very private about my ostomy I was very successful in my career. I became the first African American female officer at our local bank and functioned in several positions without the exposure of my ileostomy.  After the downsizing of my employer, I later worked 10 years at Great Lake Cheese until retiring in 2016.

What is my purpose in life?  How can I make my mom proud?

I’ve enjoyed my life as an ostomate.  I love traveling, cruising and shopping.  I was known in the business community as a person that loved to dress. I taught Dress for Success at the bank for all new tellers.

The past few years were filled with so much grief, with the most current being the death of my mom on July 4th 2019, only three days after my 60th birthday.  I was feeling the deep void of losing a brother and both parents within 4 years, depression was setting in.  I had support but I felt helpless and lost.  What is my purpose in life?  How can I make my mom proud?

Most will remember 2020 as a horrific year with so much sickness, death and devastation from a deadly pandemic.  For me, I utilized the time to seriously seek God for a purpose in my life and being quarantined turned out to be a blessing in helping me find my purpose.

I knew my testimony would bring awareness and hope to so many people.

I became more involved via social media with other ostomates.  I’ve met some wonderful friends and it became rewarding to encourage others that had shared similar experiences as me.  My heart was really saddened when I read an article about a young man that had gone to court for the right to die because he didn’t want to live with an ostomy.  I wept.  Also seeing how some individuals can’t afford the basic ostomy supplies and had to use grocery store bags and tape to secure their ostomy bags was heartbreaking.  I knew then, that there was so much more I could do for the ostomy community.  I knew my testimony would bring awareness and hope to so many people.

As a member of Jearlean Taylor’s Ostomy Stylzz Facebook Group I participated in a virtual fashion show.  She is a personal inspiration to me and that show boosted my confidence to a much greater level.  I felt a relief to go public.  I chose August 14th, 2020 to go live on Facebook and share my story.  I felt such freedom once I finished.  There were family members, coworkers, church and community friends that responded and supported me in disbelief.  For the past 38 years, they never knew I had an ostomy.

One family friend messaged me and told me that he was scheduled for surgery but has canceled many times, but because of my video he felt he could now go through it.  I still check on him to make sure he’s not having any problems.  That made going public all worth it.  But what else could I do?

I decided to participate in the Run for Resilience Ostomy 5K.  I registered over 20 walkers to participate virtually in several cities and I exceeded my fundraising goal by almost 100%.  The highlight of the day was my local mayor stopping by to present me with a proclamation from the City of Warren in support of ostomy awareness. Our local newspaper also highlighted the event.

…because of my video he felt he could now go through it.

After posting my Ostomy Awareness Day photos and story on Facebook I was contacted by so many family and friends willing to support me in the future.

With the pandemic still active, I’ve been limited in getting out in the public but I do try to make an effort to encourage other ostomates daily.  I’ve connected with my local Affiliated Support Group leader and I’m looking forward to greater things once we can meet publicly.

On, March 6, 2021 I will be a 39-year ostomate.

I’m on Facebook and I have a Youtube video discussing my ostomy journey.

I’m free, living with my ostomy!

 

“Bottom line, I have my life back and I’m only looking forward.” – Josh Nelson

Ostomies are Life-Savers – and Coloplast is proud to be a part of helping spread the word on Saturday, October 5th for Ostomy Awareness Day!

For many people, it’s not often that intimate things – like an ostomy – are discussed openly … but at Coloplast, our passion centers around hearing real-life stories from people with intimate healthcare needs. As we listen, we strive to uncover unmet needs and respond with innovative product solutions to make life easier for people living with an ostomy. We bring this passion to listen, respond, and make life easier to work every day – and we’re proud to stand with the ostomy community in raising awareness of the amazing resilience of people living with an ostomy.

Do you live in the Twin Cities? Lace up your shoes and join our team for the Virtual Run for Resilience!

You, your family, friends, and pets are invited to join Coloplast employees, ostomates in the area, and their families for a “virtual 5K” run/walk/roll along the Mississippi River in Minneapolis, MN – starting at our US corporate office. Attendees should plan to arrive by 10:00 AM to gear up for the race. There will be groups of people both running and walking, so you can move at the pace at which you are most comfortable!

Before the run/walk/roll begins, we will have two guest speakers. Kiza Olson and Josh Nelson, who both have ostomies, will tell their stories, including how an ostomy was a lifesaver for them. Watch this short video from Josh* encouraging you to join us:

This event is open to anyone who wants to help support ostomy awareness. Looking for more information? Check out our Facebook event page. Feel free to join our team and sign up for the event at no cost on the Coloplast team page.

To help you prepare for the run/walk, brush up on some tips on sports and exercise with an ostomy on our Coloplast® Care site.

Don’t live in Minneapolis?

Visit the Coloplast booth at one of the 8 Run for Resilience events nationwide!

If you plan to participate at one of the run/walks held nationwide, make sure to stop by the Coloplast table and meet our local representative! We’ll be handing out free temporary tattoos so you can wear the “Ostomies Are Life-Savers” slogan proudly on your sleeve.

We’re proud to be a part of the effort to build awareness that ostomies are life-savers – and a key contributor to really feeling like you can “have your life back” is finding the right product fit. As bodies change over time – aging, gaining or losing weight, getting new scars or a hernia – it’s important to check that you still have the right fit. That’s why we developed BodyCheck: in 8 easy steps, this online tool will identify the best combination of product(s) to provide a secure fit to your individual body profile. At our booth, we’ll have information on using BodyCheck to ensure you still have a secure fit – and a free magnet reminding you to check your body as things change.

Take a selfie!

If you get the temporary tattoo or magnet –  we’d love to see how you display them! Snap a picture and share with us on social media with the hashtags #OstomyAwarenessDay #OstomiesAreLifeSavers  #RunforResilience

 

*Josh is a SenSura Mio user who has received compensation from Coloplast to provide this information. Each person’s situation is unique, so your experience may not be the same. Talk to your healthcare provider about whether this product is right for you.

Editor’s Note: this blog post was provided by Coloplast Corp, a Gold Sponsor of UOAA’s annual Run for Resilience Ostomy 5K events that benefit UOAA, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization

National Ostomy Awareness Day is celebrated this year in the US on Saturday, October 5, 2019. At Hollister Incorporated, we are proud to stand with the broader ostomy community to show how we are #AllinforOstomy. We invite everyone to join together in spreading awareness or engaging in activities that can impact the day-to-day lives of people living with ostomies and their caregivers.

Participate in a Run for Resilience Ostomy 5K Event!

For some, the best way to celebrate and support ostomy awareness is to get out and enjoy the day, even better to do so together with the people we care about. In that spirit, we celebrate Ostomy Awareness Day again this year by supporting United Ostomy Associations of America (UOAA) as the exclusive Diamond Sponsor of the annual Run for Resilience Ostomy 5K events. The events help increase awareness about ostomy and continent diversion surgery and encourage positive dialogue. Bring family and friends with you to participate in one of these fun events nationwide. Many feature kids’ activities, a DJ, a division for people with ostomies, and awards. Visit ostomy5k.org to find a run near you. While you’re there, stop by the Hollister booth and say hello!

If you can’t make it to one of the live events, you can still participate by registering for a Virtual Walk, Run, or Roll at a location near you. Even a treadmill counts! This year Hollister Associates will participate in a virtual event near our Hollister Incorporated headquarters in Illinois, and at our distribution center in Stuarts Draft, Virginia.

Gearing up to participate in one of these events? Get in the mood with the All in for Ostomy playlist on Spotify.

Show off your Stoma Sticker on Ostomy Awareness Day or Any Day!

By wearing a “stoma” where people can see it, you can start a conversation, raise awareness, and show support for the ostomy community on Ostomy Awareness Day and every day. Place the sticker over your clothes on the lower right or left side between your navel and hip, where ostomies are typically located. Then, take a photo or video and share it on social media with the hashtags #AllinforOstomy and #OstomyAwareness. Because any day is a good day to support and celebrate ostomy awareness, Stoma Stickers are available for order year round! Visit stomasticker.com to order a free educational Stoma Sticker, shipped anywhere in the US.

Visit www.hollister.com/ostomyawareness to learn more!

 

Editor’s Note: this blog post was provided by Hollister Inc. the exclusive Diamond Sponsor of UOAA’s annual Run for Resilience Ostomy 5K events that benefit UOAA, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.

Bring Ostomy Awareness to your Neighborhood with the Run for Resilience Ostomy 5k

October 6 and 13, 2018

 

  1. Change a Life. The theme of World Ostomy Day on October 6, 2018 is “Speaking Out Changes Lives”. Speak out to smash stigmas and never let someone choose death over an ostomy ever again.
  2. Support the Dream of a Someone with an Ostomy. Some run for the first time, others walk to discover a new life after surgery. Donate to support a Run for Resilience location in your state, the worldwide Virtual 5k, or a participant fundraiser. If you or your support group start a fundraiser you can win prizes such as an exclusive Run for Resilience t-shirt, visor or group party. (Proceeds benefit the programs of UOAA)
  3. Have Fun and Get in Shape. All events are family-friendly and some feature special happening like a picnic (Arizona), giveaways, kids runs and activities, silent auction, free beer (Idaho),

    Photo by: Natalie Koziuk Photography (www.nkoziukphotography.com)

    food or other perks. Check a location near you for local details. Feel better and crush your weekly step goal by starting to train today.

  4. You Can Do it Anywhere with a Virtual 5k. Challenge yourself and show the world what people living with an ostomy are capable of. Be a visible presence and walk/run anywhere you’d like in your community. Represent the resilience of all ostomates. Take photos of you and your friends doing the 5k and inspire others on social media.
  5. Win an exclusive designer ostomy pouch cover. Legendary Nashville fashion designer Manny Cuevas (a proud ostomate and race organizer) is hand making a pouch cover and it can be yours by registering as an ostomate and placing in the top 3 at each location or by gathering one of the biggest groups of family or friends to walk or run with you for the Virtual 5k.
  6. Get a free Ostomy Awareness Sticker. Register for the Virtual Ostomy 5k or pick one up at any of our 9 locations. You’ll also get a free race bib!
  7. Get a World Ostomy Day T-Shirt and Represent the USA. Register by Sept. 17th to be guaranteed your preferred race t-shirt size. Run athletic shirts are included with all event locations ($15 for the Virtual 5k). It’s the official event of #OstomyDayUSA, tag on social media to share your photos.colostomy bag, run for resilience, ostomy pouch, stoma bag, ostomy 5k, run for resilience
  8. Discover a New Ostomy Supply or Resource. Stop by sponsor and ostomy supply company display tables, or chat with a UOAArepresentative at events across the country.
  9. Get Outside and Run in Scenic Locales. The first week in October is a beautiful time of year and runs take place among some breathtaking beauty. A historic trail in Durham, lakeside in Michigan and Arizona, riverside parks in New Jersey, Nashville, Portland, Pennsylvania and Boise, along tree-lined streets in Birmingham, or your favorite spot with the Virtual 5k.
  10. You can Go at Your Own Pace or Cheer from the Sidelines. People of all ages and athletic backgrounds take part in the Ostomy 5k. An ostomate typically wins one of the runs while in others they are among the final finishers. It’s all about what resilience means to you.

Register or donate today at www.ostomy5k.org!