Ostomate Andria in a mermaid suit

Andria: The challenge I overcame was my own mindset

"I am still the same person I always was a mother, a rider of horses who hears their hooves hit the ground not just in her dreams but in real life, a mermaid… a bride to be."

Andria received compensation from Coloplast to provide this information. Each person’s situation is unique so your experience may not be the same.

Facing an unexpected change

In every fairy-tale, the hero encounters a challenge, an obstacle, something that has happened to them and they can't fathom or understand what has happened to them. Like in these fairy tales, this mother's story started with a cancer diagnosis two years ago and out of the blue her whole life changed in an instant.

I'm sure we can all agree change can be difficult thing to accept and what I've learned in my fairy tale is to be brave and accept through all the recent sudden changes in my life. When I was diagnosed with colon rectal cancer in 2016 I was told that within two weeks I would be undergoing an 11-hour surgery and to have an ileostomy created in my body. One needs to understand from my point of view that this was the first time in my life I had heard the word “ileostomy”. Let alone know what it meant.

Andria riding the horse

Facing the challenges, one at a time

There started my long journey to becoming an ostomate. Part of the challenge was educating myself on this very new and strange foreign concept. Which I did that through many avenues which included support groups, doctors, fellow ostomates (people who have been through it already). It was through this research that I heard the wonderful stories of the warriors who were still doing all their active lifestyles they had always done before. Knowing people were living with it and seeing the pictures gave me strength. The challenge was accepting my new body and being so grateful that I found the right appliances. The challenge for me was fear of leaks so finding products with a unique locking system made all the difference in the world to my confidence. The Coloplast system gave me the confidence I needed to surge ahead and get back on my horse to ride and put on my mermaid tail knowing I would be safe from accidents and leaks. I put the products to the test and the products took everything I could throw at them. In many ways for ostomates the challenge is Mind Over Matter. In my case I had to believe that I was safe. The products would definitely have to battle what I enlisted them for because I am determined to not let this new life stop me from enjoying it. Isolation is the easiest thing to happen when you have a major life body change, I fight this every day.

Andria in a wedding dress

Mind over matter

The challenge I overcame was my own mindset. It is true cancer can take a lot from you. I got engaged just before I was diagnosed and after the surgery I couldn't have imagined even trying on a wedding dress let alone walking down the aisle. The thought of that crisp white fabric against what I knew was underneath seems like a recipe for disaster. A bad cook off if you will! But the ostomy appliances melted all my fears away. With every new application I became great at using them thus my confidence grew and grew. I then realized I could do everything I've done before and more. I just had to get out there and stick it on and life would stick back.

So that became my new mantra for life: “Stick it! Let life stick back.” I would say this over and over. So now I am still the same person I always was a mother, a rider of horses who hears their hooves hit the ground not just in her dreams but in real life, a mermaid… a bride to be. Who did finally try on a white wedding dress, and many more. A stronger woman who lives with an ostomy that allows her to be her true self and face every challenge; sticks it and lives a life filled with quality.

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