Saturday, September 03 2016
This blog post was written as part of a competition sponsored by ProBlogger, Shoebox Timeline and The Good Guys.
When you meet someone and after they've learned that I am a blogger, one of the first questions they ask is "why did you decide to start your blog?".
I smile, and ask how much time they have.
In short, I started my blog because I was 21 and just found out that I had early stages of bowel cancer and that I would be requiring surgery within the coming months to remove my entire large bowel and that I would live the rest of my life with an ileostomy (an opening in my stomach that essentially becomes my anus and does what anus' need to do).
So I was struggling to understand how I could live life as a young female with a stoma, and how will it change my life (other than how I now go to the toilet). I was scared, I felt alone and in all my research I could only find material and resources aimed at the older & retired generation.
I had questions about being intimate, sexuality, body image/confidence and even fashion. But I either felt embarrassed to ask my doctors or nurses or I was thinking "they're not young they mightn't understand the importance".
I decided to change that, I knew if I was struggling to find relatable content then surely others must be too.
I microblog on my Facebook page as well as blogging here and I talk about issues with my stoma such as skin health, dealing with leaks or ways to help make my life living with a stoma a little easier; I share fashion tips I have learnt along the way as a plus sized young female with a stoma; I talk about body image and addressing people's comments when they tell me that I am "gross" or asking "how does your husband still love you"; and I also talk about ways to help make each day better, such as how I add happiness into my day.
I also write about other areas of my journey or life that might help inspire others who are chronically sick, or have a loved one who is in hospital or isn't sick but wanting to feel motivated to make a change in their life; I wrote a post for my brother's doing year 12 and about the pressure placed on their exams and that my results didn't dictate my future; I shared budgeting tips and things to review when on a budget; I share tips on self-care and how being sick affects more than just my physical health; and I even shared how I had a wedding for under $2500!
I created a Shoebox Timeline, which is a visual of the why behind my blog and sharing the various topics/awareness raised through my blog and also on social media (Facebook and Instagram). What I loved about creating this slideshow was it allowed me to show in a creative and fun way just some of the important conversations we've had. Check out the video below or head to my Shoebox Timeline to view too.
My blog name came about one day when I was talking about needing to be optimistic with a stoma. I had gotten tongue tied and instead said 'ostomistic' and so I realised it had to be my blog name!
So I started my blog and shared my story openly, and I know it was the best decision I made as so many people have connected through my blog and have told me they don't know if they could have gotten through this journey without my blog.... which is touching, and is the reason I keep doing what I am loving.
The other part of my inspiration to writing my blog, is that in 2012 I lost my dad to bowel cancer. He was only 41 when he died and he didn't seek medical attention early enough, and when he finally did get in to see the doctor he wasn't taken seriously and was told "you're to young for bowel cancer, just take these tablets to stop you being constipated". He wasn't constipated and he hadn't eaten in months as he had a large tumour blocking his rectum. But if he had of seen a doctor early enough, there is a chance he could still be here today.
I am a strong advocate for bowel cancer detection and screening, and I try and empower others to get checked, because if bowel cancer is detected early enough it can be treated. However, only fewer than 40% of cases are detected early. I hope that through sharing this it could help save a family's heartache of having to say goodbye to their loved one too soon.
As my journey changes with each new cancer diagnosis or finding out that I am 25 and terminal with cancer, I haven't lost my passion or vision. If anything, it just makes me more determined to share what I know and to help as many as I can before I pass on.
I know that as my blog changes with my health, that it could be upsetting for some readers when facing with their own mortality, but if I focused on the few that I could be upsetting and stopped writing about that issue then I could be hurting a lot more that need to read my words and hear my message.
Through my blog I have learnt a lot about myself, but I have felt a greater sense of self-worth and accomplishment. I have even presented talks at local stoma conferences where I was asked to share life with a stoma as a young person, it was a room filled with mostly older people, and they all said they learnt a lot from my talk.
There have been times where I felt uninspired or unmotivated to write or blog, and questioned if it was all worth it... there have been times where I felt like giving up. These moments were usually at a time where I was going through some health issues and having a hard time coping, and I hadn't received comments on my recent blog post and wasn't sure if anyone was finding value in it.
Then someone will reach out to my facebook page or email me with a question or an issue and telling me they need my help. It is in that moment that I realise that I can't throw in the towel as my blog does matter and I am making a difference to someone's life. When I am told thanks for helping them it helps to inspire me to continue sharing my voice.
I believe that life gives us many opportunities, we just have to be willing to look for them and ready to run when we find them. I turned a lonely struggle into a resource that has been used by many patients and their families, as well as university researchers using my patient's perspective to form their thesis'.
Do share in the comments below what inspires you, or if you blog too, what inspired you to start blogging?
Love reading your blog. Forthright and funny. Also a brave and out-there thing to do!
Posted by JENNIFER SIMPSON on 05/09/2016 - 07:55 AM