Be patient with yourself and give yourself time to adapt to living with an ostomy. Remember to live the life you’ve always wanted to live.

I first heard about the Patient Coaches Program through Instagram. I read some of the Patient Coaches’ posts and stories and was inspired by how they live their lives. My impression was that they’re compassionate, kind-hearted people. Becoming a Patient Coach resonates with every part of who I am and want to be. I’ll be able to make use of a really challenging time in my life to help others.

In 1999, I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis. I went through a difficult year of trying different medicines and treatments. My body became increasingly weak, and I was in constant pain. Almost exactly a year after my diagnosis, I ended up in the hospital with a blood clot, and I needed an emergency colectomy. When I woke up with an ileostomy, I was relieved and felt reassured that this was my second chance; however, I was still in critical condition. I was anxious and excited to get back to taking care of my one-year-old daughter. She inspired and motivated me to recover as quickly as possible and get stronger.

Having an ileostomy has changed my life in many ways, but I try to adapt however I need to and continue doing what I love. At times I’m still surprised by this, but my ostomy has encouraged me to live my life to the fullest, dare to dream, and to try new things. It’s taught me to love myself for who I am and for what I’ve been through. I try to use these experiences as motivation to become a better person.

As a fellow ostomate, I would encourage you to make sure that you don’t give up on your dreams. Give yourself time to adapt but look out for ways that you can continue to live the life that you’ve always wanted to live. Take hold of life and embrace the changes. Use them to fuel your dreams. That’s my best piece of advice, and I hope you’ll continue to dream big!