This year, Ostomy Awareness Day is being held on Saturday 5th October over in the United States. It’s a time for the community and all ostomates to come together to raise awareness and break the stigma around having a stoma.
With 13,500 people in the UK undergoing stoma surgery every year, is it time for more people to talk about stomas and understand what they actually are and the impact they have on peoples’ lives?
Just last month, an article on BBC News told the story told of a student who has a stoma. Amber Davies was falsely accused by Wetherspoons staff of taking drugs just because she was using the disabled toilets. The young student was “grabbed” by a bouncer after coming out of the disabled toilets and was accused of “snorting, dealing and having sex in the disabled toilet” as there was no other reason she would need to use the disabled toilet that frequently. You can read more on this story here.
After incidents like this, it’s clear that there is still a lot of work to do to further increase awareness of stomas.
The role of online influencers
These days, there are more and more influencers who are taking to social media to help people understand what life is like for ostomates and to help break the stigma around it.
Hannah Witton, a vlogger who was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis and now has a stoma, has gained hundreds of new followers after opening up about the realities of living with a stoma on her social media platforms. You can view her Instagram account here.
With the huge impact social media has on everyday life, influencers like Hannah Witton can go a long way to breaking the stigma around stomas, particularly with the younger generation.
What else can be done?
In the UK, World Ostomy Day takes place every three years. However, since stomas affect such a large number of people in the UK, whether it’s directly or through a family member, is it time to dedicate at least one day every year to raising awareness?
Unfortunately, stomas are still widely perceived as embarrassing and many ostomates would rather no one knew they had one. It’s extremely important to remember that having a stoma could save a life and allows people to get back to living a normal life, so they’re nothing to be ashamed of!
Colostomy UK is a charity dedicated to helping make a difference to the lives of people living with a stoma in the UK. It funds vital support and projects to help people who are struggling pre or post-surgery. It also campaigns to ensure that ostomates’ rights and needs are recognised by society. Therefore, any donations to this charity can go a long way to helping raise awareness and break the stigma around stomas.
Here at Oakmed, we want to make the lives of ostomates easier, which is why we produce regular advice articles on our website. You can find out more about living with a stoma here.