Tales of Triumph

My story is one of triumph in the making. My journey with IBD started with my premature birth, during which I was born weighing only a little over a pound and went down to just a pound. My first tale of triumph was at the tender age of three days old, when I was given a temporary colostomy. Despite the doctors’ fears that I would not survive, I beat the odds. Three months later, I had three more operations to reverse the colostomy. However, the problems did not disappear. Throughout my childhood, I was ill from my bowel conditions and was on a strict diet. I missed a lot of school and spent many days in the hospital and going to doctors’ appointments. Despite all of my challenges with this disease, I was still able to attend school and participate in many activities. I was a regular member of the drama club, a founding member of the school milk program, a Red Cross volunteer, a member of the school recycling program, and an active volunteer at my school library.

Life has had its challenges, but I have not let it deter me from living a normal life. In my senior year of high school, I received a certificate for perfect attendance and a plaque for outstanding contribution to my school. I then went on to Bible College where I did seniors’ ministry and pregnancy crisis intervention, and other volunteer work. I was involved in helping my community through the Cancer Relay for Life, my local church’s youth group, children’s and seniors’ ministries, as well as short-term missions. I also participated in the local community strawberry festival.

Upon completing college, I had another operation to have my colostomy put back permanently. Life is full of challenges but having an ostomy does not restrict me at all. I am still a confident, live-for-the-moment type of person who can and does choose to live life large and with no boundaries. I even had the honour of being one of the 5,000 lucky few chosen to be a medal bearer in the Rick Hansen 25th Anniversary of the Man in Motion tour. It was an honour to carry such a distinct medal celebrating a hero of my time. My ostomy changed my life but it did not change my resolve to live life without barriers.

I may have more challenges in my day, but I still do the things I did before my ostomy, and even more now. I am a stronger person and I am proud to be an ostomate. I choose not to fear the unknown and instead live for the now and the unexpected. Life truly is unexpected with the challenges of an ostomy, and I am so glad that I get to live that journey every day. My hope is that my story will inspire others to know that life does go on with IBD and that you can achieve great things when you just believe that you can do it. Some days are more challenging than others, but life is so rewarding.

First published in the Inside Tract® newsletter issue 189 – 2014