It's ten years on now from when I first began this ordeal, why now have I started this you may ask as I'm not a writer. I was never any good at English in school and my spelling has always been appalling. I even had to change that word to something that spell check could recognise, as my original thought came up with "no replacements found”. My punctuation sucks, I'm not sure when I should use a comma or a full stop and don't even get me started on what a verb is versus a noun (much to my husband’s dismay, he has explained it many times but like times tables it never stuck). But despite all this, I still believe that by putting my story out there it may help others overcome any hurdles thrown in their way.
I have had thoughts about writing this all down since the first month I spent in the hospital. I'd like to say I never had the time but that would be a lie, as all I had was time. Too much time, to think about what I lost and everything that was stolen from me. In reality, I never had the courage to put it down in writing as that meant it was real and I had to admit things that I never wanted to admit even to myself let alone anyone else.
All that changed when last year I found out about the Great Comebacks Awards Program Australia and New Zealand. A fantastic award open to anyone who has overcome the challenges of living with serious intestinal diseases and/or ostomy surgery, designed to raise awareness of the quality of life issues for people living with Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, colorectal cancer or other diseases that can lead to ostomy surgery. To be considered for this award you are required to write your story down and submit it to a panel. With your permission, these stories are shared online with the aim that these stories will offer hope to others facing these diseases and transition to life after surgery.
Over the last few years, ostomy awareness and support have become a huge passion of mine. So when I found out about this award, it played to all my values. I’m quite a competitive person and I thought it may even be therapeutic to finally put it out there. To be honest, although I always hoped I never thought that I would have a chance. I have run support groups for a few years now and have heard many stories more compelling and shattering than mine. Regardless, after much procrastination, I wrote it all down and submitted it just before the closing deadline.
To my surprise, I was selected as one of the five finalists just a month later and was invited to the awards evening in Queensland. We had to make a video each that would be shown on the evening. I’m the one in the middle. I was so humbled to be around such amazing resilient people who overcome such troubling times to become only stronger on the other side. So imagine my shock when I won the award. It took me a minute or two to compose myself enough to get up on stage.
So long story short, I thought if I was good enough to win, then my writing style can’t have been that bad and all I needed was some more confidence in myself, so here we are. I truly hope that my stories can help people and guide them through the dark patches as you are never alone, you only need ask for help.