Elephants And Tea - September 2021 - 24

Adapting After Treatment
OSTOMIES
Living My Best
Ostomate Life
BY LIZ HILES, BLADDER CANCER SURVIVOR & UROSTOMATE
T
hese days when someone gives
the advice to " live your best life, "
many might associate the phrase
with celebrity journalist and talk
show host, Oprah Winfrey, who
began using it regularly on her show and in O
Magazine beginning in 1998.
I don't blame them. I mean, it's Oprah! Who
doesn't love Oprah?!
However, there is so much more to this
phrase than Oprah - no disrespect intended
towards Oprah!
I learned at a young age to follow my passions.
I studied sociology, women's studies and
cross-cultural competencies. My main goal
has always been to help and support others
and make an impact on the world around me.
Enter stage left: 2016.
That August I was hit by a Mack truck in
the form of a bladder cancer diagnosis. Life
changed in an instant.
The next eight months were filled with
treatment. A radical cystectomy with radical
hysterectomy, removal of pelvic lymph nodes
and a stoma placement for my urostomy. I was
going to be living with a medical appliance
attached to my abdomen for the rest of my life.
It is tough to plan for the future when you
can't even plan for the next five minutes as
you wade through the nausea and vomiting.
Fatigue. Neuropathy. Hair and hearing loss.
Tinnitus. You know, all the insane side effects
that are nearly as much of a pain in the ass as
the cancer itself.
Learning to live with an ostomy was a curveball
with a learning curve. I was ahead of
the curve going into it as many people who
end up requiring an ostomy due to a cancer
diagnosis have never heard the word OSTOMY
before. I had. In fact, due to the job I had
at the time, I had been advocating for the
patients and families of the doctors I worked
for regarding getting the ostomy supplies they
needed. Learning to live with my own stoma,
was a different story though.
Learning to properly apply a medical appliance
every 3-5 days while that same part of the
body was healing from a massive abdominal
procedure was not easy. There are leaks and
mishaps. There are moments of success and
pride as well as moments of failure and defeat
when you're first adapting to life as an ostomate.
Eventually, you do get the hang of things
and get over the mishaps much more quickly.
The biggest thing that was a testament to
how far I had come was in August 2019, three
24
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SEPTEMBER 2021
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Elephants And Tea - September 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Elephants And Tea - September 2021

Contents
Elephants And Tea - September 2021 - Cover1
Elephants And Tea - September 2021 - Cover2
Elephants And Tea - September 2021 - 1
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