Brenda Elsagher National Keynote Speaker talks about:
Article from Secure Start Newsletter
WHAT’S SO FUNNY?
Speaking Out and Changing Lives
Brenda speaks out on the many reasons to celebrate World Ostomy Day
I love a celebration—and World Ostomy Day on October 6 is the perfect reason for one! The United Ostomy Associations of America (UOAA) organizes the Run for Resilience Ostomy 5K events, and the Canada Ostomy Association runs the Stoma Stroll for Canada. The day is acknowledged and celebrated internationally, and the theme this year is Speaking Out Changes Lives. How true!
I have been speaking out in public about living with a colostomy since I was diagnosed with colorectal cancer at age 39. It has been 22 years. At first it was shocking for people to hear me talk about a subject that had always been considered taboo. Perhaps because at one part of my talk, I would ask the audience to all say, “Rectum, rectum, rectum!” As I explained, it wasn’t for shock value; it was so they would get more comfortable talking about that part of their own anatomies. My mission was to educate people on getting their colons screened to avoid colon cancer. My personal ostomy day is celebrated on October 24th. That’s the day I remember how grateful I am that I was privileged to have this life–saving surgery. It became life-enhancing along the way too. I got to see my 3 and 5 year olds grow up!
Every person gets to choose if they want to be public or not. I can speak from personal experience that the decision to be vocal about having an ostomy has brought comfort to many. I was a young mom, now a grandma, small business owner, wife, long-distance bike rider, and world traveler. And I’m still all of those things today—okay, so I’ve been slacking on the long-distance biking. I have been fortunate to hear from many people that reading the stories in my books helped them to accept their ostomies and even laugh when things don’t always go smoothly. We all have them and we show our resilience by carrying on.
The theme of World Ostomy Day is great for spreading awareness because there are still people with ostomies who don’t feel they can leave their homes and live their lives. Sometimes, it’s challenging and takes awhile to adjust, and then it will be okay. Then it’s time to get back to living with gusto again. No guilt or shame will ever help—instead face the fact that you get to live more fully (pun intended)!
Our ostomies don’t need to stop us from doing almost anything. To celebrate them is to accept them and ourselves just as we are today. And that’s great! So if you are participating in a run or a stroll, or quietly reflecting on October 6, 2018, pause to feel grateful for what you’ve gone through and share that joy with the people you love. Next year let’s do that 5K together!