17 April 2013: At age 38 I was diagnosed with bowel cancer. Although I knew something was wrong, not once did I think it was cancer, Coeliac’s, Crohn’s disease maybe, but definitely not cancer. I remember when the doctor gave me the diagnosis, explaining the long road ahead, chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery. I am an exceptionally positive person and was extremely calm, I didn’t cry, I was just trying to digest what I had been told. The next morning I had an appointment with a colorectal surgeon to discuss my options. The surgeon gave me the news I never saw coming, he told me I would require an ileostomy ‘what is an ileostomy I asked?’ As he was explaining this procedure tears were streaming down my face, I was mortified, devastated, this was worse than anything I could ever imagine, even worse than being told I had cancer. All I could think about was ‘Is my husband going to find me unattractive, ugly, and damaged? How will I exercise? Will I still be able to wear my clothes? Will I ever be able to wear a bikini again, how am I going to go to the beautician? How will I cope? And the thoughts just kept coming. At my pre-op appointment I met with the Stoma nurse. After a long discussion about the stoma, the Stoma nurse gave me an A3 envelope filled with information ie what the stoma would look like, different stoma bags available, what foods to eat and what foods to avoid etc, all important information but no solutions or comfort to my above concerns. It was at this appointment that I also found out that as well as adults, babies and children can also be Ostomates and that there are many different reasons for ostomies ie bladder cancer, colon cancers, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis just to name a few. I had no idea that so many people had stomas – How were they coping? I was determined to find out and to help others in the same situation.
December 2015 we could not believe what we were just told..... my husband Shayne has bowel cancer! Shayne had a couple of symptons that he would have previously ignored but because of what we had been through the last couple of years he went straight to our GP. Our GP was very proactive and scheduled some tests and Shayne was diagnosed within 48 hours of seeing the doctor. The cancer was caught very early, but his tumor was also situated very low in the bowel and he would also need an ileostomy.
Many years ago, we were faced with the awful news my father had bladder cancer. I was even more upset that Dad would consider death a better alternative to having a life-saving urostomy. At the time, I was aware my neighbour had lived with a colostomy for over 20 years and led an extremely active lifestyle. So, I knew not only would the bag save my father's life, but it would change very little that he could do. After talking to my neighbour, Dad decided to take the urostomy path. I am forever grateful that he made this decision as it gave him many more happy years. However, I was still concerned about how difficult and expensive it was to find any products to enhance an ostomate's lifestyle in Australia. Thus 'Ostomate Active" was born...
From two very different but both extremely personal experiences, we realise that the ostomy journey is hard. Not only do Ostomates have to deal with the physical changes but also with the psychological impact of having a stoma. Although many struggle with the idea and find it daunting and confronting, it doesn't need to restrict an ostomate from doing ANYTHING. An Ostomy not only offers a better alternative but for many, such as those with Crohn's and Coeliac's, improves their quality of life. An Ostomy not only offers a better alternative but for many, such as those with Crohns and Coeliacs , improves their quality of life.
Ostomate Active would like to help make this journey more positive by providing affordable products which we hope will improve the self esteem and confidence of Ostomates.
Our mantra is to “BE INSPIRED AND INSPIRE“