Adapting to life with a stoma can be difficult and can sometimes affect your confidence to do the things you want to do. The aim of the Freedom To Be campaign is to encourage and reassure people that it is possible to regain your sense of confidence and to maintain a positive attitude.

We interviewed our Aura Flushable users about how they were able to adapt to life with their stoma and here they have offered some great advice: Why did you need a colostomy?

Vicki - "Imagine the illness or condition you had before your stoma surgery. Perhaps you were in a lot of pain or discomfort, or without intervention perhaps your condition or trauma could have shortened your life.I had my colostomy following surgery for bowel cancer and found it extremely hard to come to terms with at first. When I was told I would have to have a colostomy it was a very big shock, I just wasn’t prepared for it. They told me while I was in the hospital that it couldn’t be reversed and so I realised it was something I had to live with… but I have to be honest, it didn’t come easily to me. I know lots of people feel they can’t cope with it, and some people can only see it as something that has ruined their life. But for people like me who were diagnosed with cancer, having a colostomy is literally life-saving. So if you can possibly have a positive attitude and remember that it’s saved your life and that you wouldn’t be here if you didn’t have a colostomy, then that is going to be so helpful".

Audrey - "When I had the operation that left me with a colostomy, I was initially given a 50:50 chance of survival and so I now like to remember what the operation has done for me. At the time of my operation I didn’t know how ill I was until I came back up and saw the state that I was in. But I’m thankful that there are doctors and nurses that are so clever that they can do these operations, as thousands of us wouldn’t be here".

Boyd - "I agree wholeheartedly. It was a bit of a traumatic situation, which could have turned one’s mind upside down, thinking ‘Good gracious, what have I got here for life?’ But I said to myself, this is it, I’ve got to be prepared to put up with it and have it for the rest of my life".

Positive thinkingFor some people, having surgery is a daunting experience and having surgery that leads to a stoma can be life-changing. Coming to terms with living with a colostomy can be extremely difficult to deal with and many people say they feel a loss of confidence and freedom to live their lives how they want to. Although not always easy, positivity can be key when trying to adapt to life with a stoma. Trevor, Denise and Helen share what has helped them to stay positive…

Trevor- “I do think if you’re older it can be hard to come to terms with having a colostomy. You’re used to a certain lifestyle and all of a sudden, bang, it changes. I know from my work with the Colostomy Association that lots of people find it hard to deal with emotionally. But I do feel that positivity helps. Sometimes you have to go with the wind and the tide. I’ve always travelled, I can’t really say why, it’s just in me and nothing’s going to stop me.

Denise - “I’ve never held back, I’ve just got on with things. I live life as it is. I get on with things and I enjoy life. I’m not the sort of person to hang my head. If you don’t think that way, sometimes you need give yourself a good shake and think, life is for living.”

Helen - “If you’ve had things thrown at you, and believe me I have had, you’ve just got to get on with your life and enjoy it as best you can and look at all the good things and not look so much on the bad. There may be things you can’t do, but I would say definitely try and focus on what you can do and not what you can’t.”

Get SocialIt can be really useful to connect with others during your journey. If you’d like our suggestions of places to start, check out this list of links here. Trevor spent some time working as a Trustee for the Colostomy Association and is a big believer in the work they do to connect people.
“They do some great work. I would definitely encourage anybody to sign up, it’s free and a great support, their Facebook group in particular is great and because the volunteers are all people who have had colostomies themselves, they are not judgemental in any way, they just have lots of information and lots of help for people who need a friendly ear.”
Nancy loves to be social and has found social media especially useful for getting involved with the ostomate community.
“Before I started using Facebook, I tended to feel like I was the only one with a stoma pouch, but once I got online I could see other people on there and I felt like part of something. Every time I see a letter or a post online, I think oh yes, I’d love to help that person, I know what they’re going through. You immediately empathise with them because you’ve been there, done that. You don’t need to feel alone.”

Keep doing what you loveEveryone is different and we all have different passions in life.  Audrey, at age 82, continues to attend her music group on a weekly basis. She says,
“Music has always been in my life, since I was very young. I used to love choirs and concert parties, it was always just me. I could sing from being three years old and it was fantastic. Being with my music group has given me an outlook on life that maybe I wouldn’t have had...and they’ve helped me through my problems as well.”
Nancy also loves music.
“A lot of my work is with the church. I do voluntary work within the Life Centre café which is lovely because I get to meet everybody and keep in touch with things in the community. And because I love to play the piano I play it in church when I can, and I sing too. I can still do a top A!”
Boyd’s passion is cricket. He says,
“I’m an ardent cricket fan and a member at Trent Bridge, I have been attending for the past twenty-five years and go to practically every match throughout the season! I’m a huge advocate of keeping busy and doing things I enjoy. I like to have something to do something every single day of my life and I’ve never been bored to a degree where I’ve felt discontented.”