Before stoma surgery I thought my life with a colostomy would be far less enjoyable, far less bright and colourful.
Subsequently since I’ve had my colostomy I’ve discovered nothing could be further from the truth, yes it’s true my life has never been the same again...it’s sooooo much better than it ever was!
Prior to my diagnosis (which came a bit late in the day due to my ‘age’ being the only medical assessment I went through even though I was heavily symptomatic for at the very least 5-7 years if not much much longer) (brief medical lesson for any doctors reading this if a person has cells in their body then those cells can be cancerous...age is but a number) (I am incredibly lucky, and yes I do see myself as someone who is lucky, because I had a slow growing older lady cancer, by the time the tumour was found it was big, but had only spread to local lymph nodes, I can’t bear to think about what would have happened had I had the usual sort of cancer for my age at the time, 36) anyway, as I was saying prior to diagnosis I was incredibly symptomatic of bowel cancer. And therefore my world had become very small.
For many years I was incorrectly told I had IBS, I was too afraid to go too far from a toilet I trusted, for 8 years at least I didn’t fly anywhere, too fearful of ‘accidents’ and no I don’t mean like the plane falling out the sky, I mean sh**ing myself in public. It became my life, the fear of messing myself. It wasn’t a baseless fear, there had been a few occasions pre diagnosis that what I thought was merely wind actually wasn’t.
I became scared of certain foods, thinking I was allergic maybe. I lived a very small life. Not a horrible life by any means but not the fully functioning vibrant life of someone in full health.
I don’t suppose my boys noticed, after all you don’t miss what you never had. But we just simply were slaves to my bowels and my confidence in them.
So being diagnosed, treated with all the usual suspects, chemo, radio and then the op I was then free to go on my way. (You never truly feel carefree again though, any pain can lead to hyperventilating that something’s gone wrong again, but you put it to the back of your mind as best you can, you stifle those fears to a mere whisper...sometimes, sometimes it comes back like a screaming banshee but for the most part you quiet it).
Since being in remission my life has exploded into this amazing technology dream life!
So I have a bag of poo strapped to my belly, so what. It’s a shame that my cancer wasn’t picked up earlier and therefore would have saved me from having a bag but when all’s said and done a bag IS a small price to pay for survival (don’t agree? Believe me there’s plenty of people who’d swap being able to stay alive for a stoma in a heartbeat) Mine’s a very well travelled bag I’ll have you know! (Well, it’s not the same bag, that would be grim but you know what I mean).
Life has been far better post cancer than it ever was before. (Admittedly early diagnosis and intervention would have been far better but that wasn’t to be my story) There are a number of reasons for that. Firstly I’m here, fit and well and less concerned about messing myself in public, which may seem odd to some people as it’s probably just as possible with a bag leak as it was with a bum leak. But I just feel calmer about it. I mean if a leak happens now, I can just explain “oh sorry about that, it’s just I had bowel cancer and now I have a colostomy bag and it’s just leaked I’m afraid”......rather than before if an accident occurred I’d have to say oh sorry about that I think I’m allergic to spinach and then run and hide in shame!!
I’m not sure who these imaginary people I’m explaining all my business to are, but my point is I’m actually more confident now. My confidence in all areas is higher now.
I’m more body confident now than I ever was before, which is odd because I’m 2 stone heavier than I was pre diagnosis. (Cancer really does keep your weight down but it’s not a diet plan I recommend) plus I have a colostomy bag on all the time, you’d think that would make me less confident but it hasn’t I see it as a badge of honour - literally!
I’m simply more confident in every way possible now. Maybe surviving surgery has lead me to believe that if I can get through that I can get through anything. It was tough going but I did it! I made it through the other side, I am incredible at healing, Yey me!!
I will go out and live life to the full, nothing really phases me, I know I can fly great distances without a problem. Which means I get to enjoy the world.
I will wear a bikini in public. Bold as brass, I’m not under any allusions or delusions that I have a great body like a supermodel. No, I have a great body because it’s mine! All mine! It healed so that I could go on and enjoy myself. And I take advantage of that, very much so.
Me last week in India.
The final few days of our India trip were spent cocooned in this little paradise. With sunsets to blow your mind and days of glorious sunshine, I just felt the luckiest person alive. I feel very blessed that I’m here to do all these amazing things and have these incredible experiences. And the only reason I am here, when other equally deserving people aren’t is just down to the luck of the draw. How can I feel anything but lucky.
There are so many reasons why I feel blessed and one very special one arrived the day after we got back from India.
A brief synopsis of our family history to date. Six months before I was diagnosed with cancer our son Samuel, who was 13 years old at the time was diagnosed with advanced stage Nasopharyngeal carcinoma. A rare and aggressive cancer in the cavity behind your nose and throat. It was unfortunately caught late (you know, the whole age crap counting against him, “he’s far far to young to have cancer” etc etc). Anyway although inoperable it was treatable. He had chemo and radiotherapy and immuno therapy. There was a lot of collateral damage done by the treatment to cure him. And one of the most heartbreaking for Chris and I to have to sign off on was that with the specific type chemo he needed he wouldn’t be able to have children, it felt like we were giving him a chance to survive but at the same time taking away his future. But alive and childless was the only option so we signed and he started treatment.
Sam himself was very aware of all the damage that he suffered and took it in his stride, even though he was only 13 we told him everything. He planned a future and has lived his life well. And then he rang me last year and said “you know the doctor said I wouldn’t be able to have children?”... and the rest as they say is history. Sam became a dad to a beautiful baby boy on Friday last week, a very overdue Zachary Samuel arrived, he must have waited for his Nana and Pops to get back from holiday. Hahahahaha
I’m so happy for Sam and Milly, huge congratulations to the pair of them. And I wish them every happiness for a wonderful life together. Now as a family of 3. My heart is bursting with pride.
The proudest, most thankful grandparents ever.
Look at that little face! Oh be still my heart.
Now don’t be thinking that being a granny is going to change the way I dress, I’m not quite ready for nylon dresses and house coats yet. As you can see from last week alone - grandmas with colostomy’s can still rock bikinis. Hahahahaha
I will still be just the same old me, if I’ve learnt anything in life so far it’s not to let circumstances define you.
Dress to make yourself feel fabulous. Especially when you’re somewhat jet lagged.
Top from Michael Kors.
Chris and I got home from India on Thursday night and we both had a few appointments in London on the Friday so we trekked up town, and decided the best way to spend Friday night would be having a delicious curry hahahahaha, we both miss India so much, everything about it but mainly the food.
We decided to go to Chutney Mary as it’s our absolute favourite Indian restaurant of all time ever, apart from a few rather good ones in India of course. My mouth is salivating thinking about it now. Hahahahaha
The drinks menu is incredibly appealing too, I might not drink alcohol anymore but I still love a drink with a bit of drama! Hahahahaha
Then Saturday morning we went for brunch with friends, still with a touch of jet lag but it’s soooooo much better than coming home from California last year (literally thought I was going to die of that lag, I loved California but not sure I can do that again, all I can say is I’ve never been more grateful for a colostomy bag! Ever!) :0
Top from Ralph Lauren, Jeans Joni’s from Topshop, Shoes from Prada.
Am I ready for a blue rinse and rollers yet? Nah!! This Gammy still has some life in her yet! Hahahahaha :)