I’ve tried writing this post a few times now. The CDC has put out new anti-smoking ads. These ads have always been kind of in your face and shocking. The most recent tie together the increased risk of colon cancer and smoking. There’s this one:
and this one:
Many people with ostomies were offended by these commercials. The United Ostomy Association of America even wrote a letter to the CDC asking them to remove the ads. The argument is that portraying ostomy bags in such a negative light increases the negative stigma that would cause people needing the life save surgery to delay having it or refuse having it altogether. The CDC changed the one that was most offensive to people with ostomies. This is the new version:
I’m torn. I was really offended at first. The original version of this ad basically said that getting an ostomy was the worst possible thing that could happen to you. Julia basically said that it leaked and smelled and she was stuck in the house for the year she had to wear one.
Having a colostomy bag for 4 years now I wanted to shout at the monitor and say that’s just not true. I later felt bad for Julia because if that was her experience then her health care provider really failed her post surgery care. They could have addressed those issues and not made her feel trapped in her home.
Ostomy -v- Normal / Ostomy -v- Death / Ostomy -v- Pain
Given a choice, nobody is going to choose an ostomy over being normal. At some point though you may be faced with a choice of an ostomy or severe pain, incontinence, or death. It’s unfortunate that there is such a negative stigma that it may cause people to endure pain or even prefer death to it.
I’m going to be honest. When I was diagnosed with cancer, I thought getting a colostomy bag was the worst possible outcome. That was really early in the process. That was before the massive pain I had to endure before surgery. That was before the actual realization that death was a possibility.
I’ll also say that getting one is life changing and that having one was difficult for me at first. I had problems with having the bag adhere to my skin. I was afraid of being too rough with cleaning the stoma because, you know, it’s my colon sticking out of me. In the end, medical supply companies were very generous and sent out many samples of different products until I found one that works and my stoma nurse ensured me that my stoma is pretty damn tough.
Four years later, I’m more active than I was before the surgery. I’ve had to change how I do things obviously, but I have not been hindered at all. At the end of the day, I don’t mind much pooping in a bag. I’ve also managed to keep my sense of humor, thanks for the tip Julia and Mark! 🙂
Michael is a Colon cancer survivor living in the Nevada desert with his wife, cat and dog. He is lucky enough to have some family close but wishes he was closer to all his family. When not working he spends his days trying to make stuff from pretty much anything.