I hadn’t really heard the term ‘advocate’ until recently. The definition for an ‘advocate’ is:
(noun): a person who publicly supports or recommends a particular cause or policy.
So I suppose that definition suits me. What’s my cause? Lots of things, to be honest. Along with mental health and chronic illnesses, a big part of my advocating goes to awareness of stomas. A lot of people who may have caught a glimpse of my bag have usually said something along the lines of “You have something stuck on you” or “What is that?” – which is fair enough as I hadn’t even heard of them long before my surgery. Now I think about it, I do wish I had known about them sooner as I do know family/friends who has/have had a stoma. And the fact that I didn’t know anything about what they were or how they worked made me feel slightly… sad, I guess? Sad that the people I know who have had experience with them didn’t have the confidence to tell me as it was ’embarrassing’.
When the time came for me to have my stoma, after a year of a liquid diet, I promised to myself that I would always be completely honest and open about having a stoma; so I could remove the stigma that may be attached to it. Most people when they have the surgery, the can’t bear to look at it; this squishy, red bit of intestine sticking out their stomach with a bag to cover it. Me? It was one of the first things I did when I woke up! Maybe it was different as it wasn’t an emergency surgery – it had been planned for months and so I knew everything there was to know. I like to be organised and prepared so I got all these leaflets and information packs from various companies, I tried on different stoma bags so I knew what I would look like with a plastic bag slapped onto my stomach. I was ready – mentally ready – not just for the surgery, but for telling people about stomas, for raising awareness about them.
It’s not just me though. There are lots of other incredible people who have undergone the surgery and do their bit to raise awareness and break the stigma. I have had the very good fortune of being included on Glamour Paris‘ website along with three other inspiring women, talking all things stoma:
Or, in English:
‘Instagram influencers display their stoma bags, a medical device for evacuating urine and stool’
Not sure how I feel about the term ‘influencer’ but it’s very flattering! The article is in French but, luckily, my father speaks fluent French. The article is about three lovely women alongside myself, who have a stoma too (albeit for a different reason, but that doesn’t matter!). If you fancy having a read, then please click the French title where it will take you to the page – you may have to use a translator of some sort if you’re like me though!
Thank you very much to Glamour Paris for including me in this lovely article, helping to promote and raise awareness of stomas. It’s a wonderful thing to be a part of!