by CherryBlossom on April 18, 2016 - 11:25am
Crohn’s disease is an invisible chronic illness that touches the digestive system. Many people with this disease do not want to talk about their condition publicly for two reasons. First, they do not want to be labelled as a sick person. Second, having a digestive problem is embarrassing.
Furthermore, many patients with Crohn’s disease have to undergo surgery and some have to resort to an ostomy surgery to save their lives.
“An ostomy is a surgically created opening form an internal organ (stoma) to an external point on the body, usually the abdomen, for the removal of bodily waste. Bodily waste passes through the stoma into a special bag on the outside of the body that the wearer empties on a regular basis.”
Many people with Crohn’s disease or Ulcerative Colitis have negative feelings and beliefs towards this surgery. Some are scared of undergoing the surgery and they would rather continue living in pain than facing the operation. For those who do get ostomies, generally they don’t want to talk about it and develop negative feelings towards their own bodies.
Jessica Grossman, a young adult created Uncover Ostomy, an online awareness campaign whose mission is “to break the stigma surrounding the ostomy, to spread positive awareness of the life-saving surgery, and to encourage body positivity for those with ostomies […] through conversation, social sharing, and community.”
Jessica Grossman used her Uncover Ostomy website as a “sharing platform” in which she shares her story and encourages others to share theirs.
Uncover Ostomy “also works to encourage patients who need the surgery to go through with it and then provide support, tips and tricks on how to live with an ostomy bag.” (news.com.au)
Diagnosed with Cronh’s disease at nine years old, Jessica spent two years in the hospital between the age of 11 and 13. She experienced a lot of pain, her bowels where bleeding excessively and she was too weak to move. “After countless diets, torturous tests, and medications with side-effects worse than the disease itself, Jessica had to make a choice. Ostomy surgery, or death.”
She has undergone ostomy surgery in 2003 and is now mostly healthy, has created the Uncover Ostomy platform, is completing a Master’s degree in digital marketing and is engaged to her best friend.
Jessica writes on uncover ostomy on a regular basis and as a model and actress, uses these two fields to spread awareness by shooting with her ostomy bag and participating in awareness videos.
There is a growing movement of young adults living with invisible chronic illnesses who want to speak up and come out form the shadows to raise awareness and improve the lives of all those who live with these diseases. Just like Jessica, Milly, whose story I wrote about a couple weeks ago, is also making a change. Milly is using photography to portray the lives of people with invisible diseases.
These two women are encouraging people who suffer from an illness may it be Crohn’s or another to live fulfilling lives no matter what their condition and circumstances are. They are helping sick people accept themselves.
Link to Uncover ostomy:
Link to Milly’s article:
Link to news.com.au article: