Cancer, Colostomy (+ bikini shots) Colonic Irrigation and Tidings, the Colostomy Association Magazine


6 months after my colostomy

I’ve uploaded these images of me taken in 1988, 6/7 months after my colostomy, hoping to show new ostomates that it isn’t the end of the world. It may alter lives considerably, but think what I would have missed if I had chosen death instead; no Paul, no seeing my two children gain their four degrees, no seeing them get married nor the arrival of my five grandchildren, nor getting to know Paul’s eldest son and his wife and children.

When these photos were taken I was wearing an appliance called a ‘plug’ – hence that bulge on my left side. The appliance worked quite well, but the following year I was introduced to colonic irrigation, so now I mostly wear just a small stoma cap and had I been wearing that in the photo, you wouldn’t have seen any bulge. However, irrigation isn’t suitable for everyone

I’m getting many hits on the blog Cancer, Colostomy and Colonic Irrigation, but no comments and no questions, so I’m guessing that the readers may be disappointed to find it is just a general blog, when maybe they were looking for more information.

Coincidentally, Tidings, the Colostomy Association magazine, is now doing a double page on irrigation, so I would advise interested parties to take a look at that, as they will find other people and their experiences. Otherwise, feel free to ask me any questions on any of the above as I’m fairly well versed, having been diagnosed with colo-rectal cancer in 1986, which recurred 18 months later. I first had a radium needle implant then the following year had to have the A/P resection (colostomy with excision of the back passage).

I tried various types of colostomy apparatus, finally settling on the irrigation method in 1989. Yes I do have problems, but it is the method I much prefer.

wearing a stoma cap

Apologies for the quality of this picture due to me taking it of myself. Now a 65 year-old I don’t often show my ageing body to spectators, so this is taken lying down so you can’t see the effect of gravity on skin that has lost its elasticity! I took the photo because this topic has the most hits and I wanted to show that a stoma cap can go undetected. Of course, as I have said elsewhere, not everyone can irrigate and use a stoma cap. If you have regular bowel movements, then maybe you can also wear one.

Further to the colo-rectal cancer, I was diagnosed with carcinoma in situ of the cervix and then secondary bone cancer in 1990, from which I wasn’t expected to survive. I was treated with more radiotherapy (of the conventional kind), then more surgery and chemo-therapy in quick succession. I was in the final year of my degree course at the time, so it was all rather stressful to say the least. But if I can get through all that – so can you….

About willosworld

Born in Liverpool at the end of WW2, but raised in Skelmersdale. I first studied art in Southport from 1960-63 and worked in graphic design till I married. In December 1969 I moved to Zambia with my husband and two young children. There I taught art in the local girls school, illustrated for the National Correspondence College and did all sorts of other artwork, paid and unpaid. In 1985 I became ill and the following year cancer was diagnosed. There was no treatment available in Zambia and so I had to return to the UK. After recovering from a radium needle implant I went back to Zambia, but 18 months later the cancer recurred and it was off to the UK again for radical surgery. This time I decided I should remain, leaving my husband. A few months later I applied for a degree course, as I would have to work to support myself and my family and re-educating seemed a good idea. The western art world had changed so much in the 17 years I had been living in a sleepy little town on the edge of the African bush. Not long after I started at Liverpool Polytechnic I was diagnosed with carcinoma in situ of the cervix (totally unrelated to the previous cancer). During my second year I became ill again and could hardly walk or lift my left leg. After many months it was discovered that the origanial tumour had metastasised to the bone and my pelvis had fractured. Radiation, surgery and chemo followed, but I graduated on schedule in 1991. This was all made possible from the support of my new partner, who would drag me back to the hospital when I was ready to curl up and die. Because of my experience of cancer and surviving against the odds, I try and help others cope with their devastating diagnosis and prognosis. It is now 22 years since my last cancer treatment.
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5 Responses to Cancer, Colostomy (+ bikini shots) Colonic Irrigation and Tidings, the Colostomy Association Magazine

  1. cho-cho says:

    Now I have more great blogs to read – thank you so much!

    regards,
    choco

  2. Carolyn says:

    Hello

    Please email me about the cap. I’m having my colostomy this Thursday. I am very regular in the bathroom and would like to know mOre info

    Thank you
    Carolyn 47

    • willosworld says:

      Hi Carolyn, good to hear from you.

      Things have moved on since I had my surgery in 1987, so not quite sure what is the thinking currently, but initially I just had to use the ‘normal’ pouch method for a while until my stoma nurses suggested the plug/cap method. A year or so later they felt the irrigation method would suit me better and I have been using that method ever since, though it doesn’t suit everyone. You need to follow the advice of your specialist nurses or consultants. You will also get lots of detailed information off the internet or from booklets given to you by your nurses, but if you want me to give you a personal view I can contact you via email.

      I wonder what is your medical condition that is necessitating you needing a colostomy? I think much depends on that as to what methods are available to you.

      Don’t hesitate to contact me again – and all the best for your forthcoming surgery. Let me know how you get on. I’ll be thinking about you.

      Best wishes

      Willo

      • willosworld says:

        Hello again Carolyn

        Forgot to say the stoma cap I use now is applied after doing the colonic irrigation. Because it is so small (4″ diameter) it can be fairly well hidden when wearing a two piece costume (as long as it isn’t too skimpy), though much will depend on the position of your stoma. There is an interesting blog by a young Canadian woman, which you might be interested in: http://uncoverostomy.org/ . Have a look at that.

    • willosworld says:

      Hello Carolyn

      Just wondering how you are getting on after your surgery?

      Best wishes.

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