Hi, my name is Maria Sandoval. I wanted to come on here and share my story with you. You may ask, why am I putting the Run for Resilience Ostomy 5k run/walk/roll together in my community? Because it has given me my life back.
In November of 2022 I had surgery to get an ostomy because my ulcerative colitis was getting worse. I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis in 2012. Ulcerative colitis is an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that causes inflammation and ulcers (sores) in your digestive tract. Ulcerative Colitis affects the innermost lining of your large intestine, also called the colon, and rectum. In most people, symptoms usually develop over time, rather than suddenly.
In my case my symptoms did develop over time and things got worse in 2020. The medication I was put on was no longer working. My body was shutting down and therefore my doctor recommended colorectal surgery.
It’s important to me to shine light on ostomies and to give hope to my ostomy community in Arkansas and show them that they are not alone.
I had no idea what this surgery was nor did I know anyone that had undergone this type of surgery. The fear of the unknown put me off from having this done. I was fortunate to have a great surgeon with a great team who gave me all the information I could ask for. They were patient with me, and so understanding of all my feelings. They answered my questions and addressed my concerns. Having that information and having faith, helped me make the decision to have this surgery. I had hope for the first time since being diagnosed with ulcerative colitis.
Currently, it’s 2023 and I am 33 and I have my life back. For the first time in a decade I can honestly say I feel safe in my body. I have energy, I feel empowered and I’m here to share my story. Making the decision to have my colon removed and have an ostomy was the best thing I could have done for myself.
I am here to stop the stigma around having an Ostomy. I am here to highlight the positives of having one and how it has impacted my life.
I learned about UOAA through social media. I went to ostomy.org to look up what UOAA is all about and saw that they had a 5k run for Ostomy Awareness Day every October. I have always loved to run in races and thought how cool it would be if I could bring this run to my area. I contacted UOAA to see if they would like to have Northwest Arkansas be part of their Run for Resilience Ostomy 5k and they were more than happy to do so.
I was so proud to have finished the race. I wasn’t racing for time, rather, I was racing for me. My ostomy gave me back my confidence in running.
The Run for Resilience Ostomy 5k is the major fundraiser for all the great things UOAA does. UOAA has great resources to help with recovery and one of those resources I happened to stumble upon is their support group finder. UOAA does a great job of locating support groups and WOC nurses in your area. Forever grateful for that! I also use their site for educational information, self-advocacy checklists, and finding events they have going on, like the Run for the Resilience Ostomy 5k and their National Conference.
By hosting and taking part in the Run for Resilience I hope to spread awareness on ostomies and continent diversion surgery. It’s important to me to shine light on ostomies and to give hope to my ostomy community in Arkansas and show them that they are not alone. That they have a community to go to.
My mother is helping me host our first event. I am so grateful to have my family help me through this journey. My husband and mother were my caregivers before and after surgery. Making the decision to have surgery was a difficult one, but they both helped me through it.
I hope everyone no matter of where they are out takes part in a Run for Resilience event near them or the Worldwide Virtual Ostomy 5k. I love sharing photos like the one here of a half-marathon I ran five months post-op! Everyone should go at their own pace and talk to their doctor, but for me I think it was one month after my ostomy surgery when I started to train for the half marathon. I took it pretty slow. I began by walking a mile and slowly worked my way up to a jog. By month four I was feeling great and feeling like my old self. I was so proud to have finished the race. I wasn’t racing for time, rather, I was racing for me. My ostomy gave me back my confidence in running.
I would run races here and there before my ostomy surgery. My ulcerative colitis would make it difficult at times to run, but when it was in remission I was happy to get back to running. I have always enjoyed running because it was the one thing I could control in my life. My ostomy gave that back to me. Ostomies are truly life savers!