Stories to inspire


Graham Thomas

Bedford, NS

I had urostomy surgery when I was 74 because of cancer. Three months after my surgery I was back doing every thing I did before, golfing, going to the gym, gardening etc. I live life to the fullest, I’m cancer free and another plus, I don’t have to get up through the night to go to the bathroom!

I belong to Ostomy Halifax and go to their monthly meetings, which gave me the opportunity to meet and talk to other ostomates who had already been through what I had. When I needed to talk to an ostomy nurse I was able to do so and the appliance manufacturers were also very helpful with advice and free samples.


Joel Jacobson

Halifax NS

Retired Journalist

The surgery was a lifesaver – I escaped colon cancer after precautionary chemotherapy and radiation. I still do many things I did before – swim, but not Olympic speed; golf, but just as poorly; am physically active, mentally sharp and busy as a volunteer and occasional work, which is not at all physically taxing.

Life is so good now that I don’t have to look for a bathroom everywhere I go, because of constant bowel movements. My ostomy pouch takes care of that for me.

I have met many new friends through my ostomy. They are supportive, positive about their situation and have enabled me to think positively about mine. I never felt different because I always had (still have) a positive attitude about my ileostomy. Yet I’m glad I can offer support to others at monthly meetings and as a certified visitor.

I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis as a teenager and suffered with it for more than 40 years before ileostomy surgery ended the discomfort and fear of explosions etc. Now I’m able to be me.


Terry Hurrell

Halifax, Nova Scotia

Retired music teacher

I have formed choirs such as the Halifax Boys’ Honour Choir and Nova Voce Provincial Men’s Choir.  Although I no longer conduct these choirs on a regular basis, I do so at least once a year, often more. I also arrange and write choral music for them all the time.  I also am an artist, specializing in water colours and acrylics. Currently, May 2019, I have had 3 of my paintings selected for exhibition in a juried art show and sale at the Chase Gallery, Public Archives, Halifax. The fact that I have to deal with an ostomy on a regular daily basis does not stop me from living a vital and creative life.


Tom Pinsent

Timberlea, NS

Civil Engineer

For about 10 years I suffered from Chron’s disease which was slowly getting worse. I had my surgery in January of 2012. Within a week of my surgery I knew I had made the right decision to have the colostomy surgery. I’m back to doing the things I did before surgery, as well as some of the things I had stopped doing. I’m enjoying my bowling again, riding my bike, getting outdoors hunting and fishing and am back to my old self. I enjoy Ostomy Halifax’s monthly meetings which has allowed me to meet other ostomates. It’s a very support oriented group and, after learning the do’s and dont’s of visiting ostomates in hospital, I’m now helping others in this way.


Heather Bonnell

Wolfville, Nova Scotia

I have had Crohn’s disease since 1998. I was 10 years old then, and I have had an aggressive disease course most of my life. My doctors had been suggesting an ostomy for 5 years because I was so ill. I flat out refused, I couldn’t imagine a life with a bag. Eventually, in 2017, I had no other choice, I need an ileostomy if I wanted to survive. I was devastated at first, I felt my life was over. It didn’t take very long before I realized that my life had only begun, for the first time in over 10 years, I wasn’t in pain, I wasn’t sick, and I could eat pretty much anything! It was the best thing that has ever happened to me. Once I was connected to Ostomy Halifax a few months after surgery, I gained a community of friends, and they helped me to accept my bag as well as gave me the opportunity to share my story to help others. I gained the strength to speak out about my story, and it has allowed me to grow into a more confident person than I was before my surgery. I know I have made lifelong friends, and I am constantly humbled by how they have impacted my life in such a positive way.


Lunenburg County, Nova Scotia

After being ill for 32 years, I was finally diagnosed with ulcerative colitis. Then for ten years I went from severe attacks to steroid induced remissions with the accompanying side effects.  Eventually, unable to continue that path, I underwent surgery for a permanent ileostomy. Although at first I resisted the surgery and resented my ileostomy, I soon became aware of the freedom I now enjoyed….both from pain and from being restricted in my life choices.

Within a year of my surgery I was again scuba diving on a regular basis,  spending weekends and vacations with my husband on our boat. When he was offered a six week assignment in Singapore, I was able to accompany him and learned that air travel, actually any travel, was now available to me again.  Life literally returned to normal for us.

The year I retired we had the experience of a lifetime.  Alone we took a 19 ft. boat (no facilities) from Yellowknife to Tuktoyaktuk.  Down the longest river in the country through one of the largest existing wilderness areas.  Upon completion of that adventure, for five years we travelled in a small RV from Mexico to Alaska, the West Coast to Newfoundland and back again following the sun.  Our winters in Arizona included parasailing, hang-gliding, hot air ballooning, volunteering for Habitat for Humanity and even being camp hosts at a US National Park.

Eventually we returned to build our home in rural Nova Scotia, near the ocean where we can continue our previous pastimes.  We still RV around the Atlantic Provinces in the summer, hike regularly and I have taken up gardening, yoga and pickle ball.  We usually travel somewhere interesting to break up the winter….the last trip was China.

I guess I should also mention that there have been some down times.  In the early years after my surgery I developed a hernia which required a repair and a couple of blockages which eventually resolved themselves.

There have also been the occasional mishaps with my appliance but never one that was not able to be handled quickly.  I am very conscious of the need to carry extra supplies at ALL times and have never yet been unable to find a way to deal with the issue.

So, though I can only speak for myself and how I have lived with an ostomy, I am sure as you read my story, you will realize I have no regrets.  Well, maybe one, I should have had it earlier. I do not consider myself disabled or a victim, hampered by my ostomy in any way. It not only saved my life, it is allowing me to live the best, most active life I could wish for.  So, for anyone currently facing or living with an ostomy, know that whatever life you choose, it is possible.


Halifax, NS

I have been an Ostomate for over 30 years. I enjoy a very active lifestyle. I ski, hike, kayak, swim in the ocean, run 4 or 5 times a week and bike up to 50 km in a single outing. I love wilderness camping. My active lifestyle began after my surgery.

Life can be great with an Ostomy.

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We’d love to share our story to help other ostomates around the world realize their full potential. Please share (you can do it anonymously if you’d like) and you can do it from anywhere around the world.