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Pretty Girl Blues: Living With An Ostomy Bag

JET wants you to Talk Back.  This is one of the reader submissions that we received and opted to publish.  Want to make your voice heard?  Submit your commentary, TV show recap, poem, 500-word book excerpt or essay HERE.  Read all the rules  so you know how it works.  

When I was three, my parents heard words that would devastate their lives. “Your child has a rare form of cancer with a 50/50 chance of living.”

What started out as a day of playing in the yard with my siblings turned into blood flowing from my vaginal area. My parents rushed me to hospital. I went through rigorous tests to discover it was a cancerous tumor called Rhabdomysarcoma. Because of where the cancer was located and where it had spread, certain organs were damaged and removed.

I’ve had two ostomies since then. An ostomy is a surgically created opening in the body for the discharge of wastes. It functions as my bladder and bowels, and is located on each side of my stomach around the navel area. For rest of my life, I will have to wear ostomy bags. An ostomy bag (pouch) attaches to the abdomen to collect the diverted output, which is either stool or urine. This disease, and all that came after it has been a journey of unexpected challenges. My outward appearance is one of beauty, grace, and charm. My inward existence was one of low self-esteem, shame, insecurity, chronic medical complications, and suicidal thoughts. While others appeared to be living a “normal life,” I struggled with self-pity, unhappiness, depression, and not loving myself.  I found it hard, embarrassing, and painful to be considered “different” when growing up. The ridicule of name-calling by peers. The hurtful comments: “something smells,” “I heard she wears a bag.” With thoughts of insecurities and feeling sorry for myself, how would I find peace and acceptance?

Through my journey, I discovered who I could be in spite of my medical circumstances. My insecurities did not change overnight, but with the help of doctors, my parents, siblings, friends, and my faith in God, I learned to be a survivor. I have been a fashion model for 17 years with two ostomy bags. WOW! Because I told my story, I am delighted to have met a group of women who found me through a mutual friend and social media. When I spoke with them, I had an idea to form a group called Osto Beauties. We all have experienced different life-altering medical conditions (cancer and ulcerative colitis), which caused us to be PERMANENTLY left with ostomies. We are able to relate to and understand the struggles of having an ostomy (bag). I was able to see others that “looked” like me.

We want people to know that life happens, but we have the power inside of us to survive. We want people to be inspired and encouraged no matter what the circumstance is. If anyone is facing similar difficulties whether it is a disease, low self-esteem, or life challenges, use your pain, struggles, and circumstances to build your faith. The adversities that you overcome will allow you to inspire and encourage others. Our life is precious and we all have a destiny to reach. We are VICTORIOUS and not victims. 

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Click here to learn more about Osto Beauties.