Hi, my name is Cerimar Cardona and I am a Patient Coach with 11 Health. I was born in Puerto Rico and when I was 7 years old we moved to Orlando, Florida, where I’ve been living ever since. I have a 6-month-old baby boy who brings so much joy to my fiancé and I.

In 2007 I was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease. I was on many medications from the beginning of my diagnosis and was never fully in remission. In late 2017 things took a turn and the day after Thanksgiving I was hospitalized due to my appendix and pneumonia. After a few tests and scans, the issue was more than just my appendix. My colon had severe inflammation and the doctors prepared me for different outcomes after my surgery; one of them being an ostomy. I knew eventually this day would come and I was prepared. I had done all my research after my diagnosis in 2007 and I felt ready. When I woke up from surgery I was surrounded by my family and had a permanent ileostomy.

I started following Maggie Baldwin on her YouTube channel, “Let’s Talk IBD”, during my hospital stay after I got my surgery. One of the vlogs she made was about this incredible company called 11 Health. After that, I continued to hear of 11 health from accounts that I was following on Instagram. I just knew that I wanted to be a part of this company as a Patient Coach.

I am so excited and thrilled to now be a Patient Coach! This is such an amazing opportunity to help people. It will allow me to share my personal experience and help support fellow ostomates.

Having my Ostomy has given me my life back. I now get to enjoy time with family without having to worry about running to a bathroom, or being in so much pain that I don’t want to leave my house. My ostomy has given me my greatest gift and that is to be a mom. Something that was impossible before, became possible now. I have had many challenges with my ostomy. After surgery I had a mucocutaneous separation of my stoma, a wound that would not heal, and then developed a fistula on the stoma; which then turned into a prolapse. As ostomates we all struggle, but in the end, we are stronger than this and we overcome it. I have never felt better or been happier. I am so grateful for my ostomy and my new life as an ostomate.

One piece of advice I would give to a new ostomate or someone preparing for surgery is to do research and ask questions. Find a support group prior to surgery, so you can meet other ostomates who can be of support and encouragement. As overwhelming or frustrating it may be at first, it will get easier and become normal before you know it. This will not stop you from living life; instead it will allow you to get your life back.