My Stoma and Lockdown!

21 July, 2020

Melanie talks about the impact our Active Ostomates: at Home Mindfulness & Meditation classes have had on her well-being.

“Last December I was shocked to discover I had ovarian cancer. I had a 20cm growth inside of me and the cancer had spread to my bowel.

 My operation took place in February. I had a full hysterectomy and the ovarian tumour removed, along with part of my bowel, resulting in an ileostomy.

 I was due to receive my biopsy results in March just as the country went into lockdown. This meant that I had to hear some difficult news over the phone. My surgeon informed me that I had stage 3C cancer and it had spread to the bowel and lymph nodes. It is a very rare type of cancer (mucinous ovarian), which is not sensitive to chemo… so the plan was watch and wait.

 I was/am determined to beat this and get well. I immersed myself in daily exercise and eating incredibly well. What I didn’t do was look after my mind. Luckily, my Macmillan nurse picked this up and referred me to a psychologist. These sessions have helped with acceptance and I am learning to be kind to myself.

I am quite savvy with Twitter and luckily started to follow Colostomy UK. I saw the advert for Active Ostomates and thought… why not! I have tried meditation a few times and have found it tricky so I was skeptical and a little nervous about the first session.

 For me the sessions have been incredible, I feel it is my safe space and a real time when I allow myself to focus on me. Sophie our teacher is excellent, she has the most soothing voice and I love how she gets us to check in with our minds but not to get stressed if our minds are racing that day. She also focuses on our tummies, which allows me to give a nod to my stoma and a period of gratitude as it is probably some of the reason I am still alive.

I get so much comfort knowing that I am ‘virtually’ with other ostomates, all with one thing in common: a stoma! I always feel so refreshed after Sophie’s sessions. I feel like I have had a day at a spa. I am so glad that Colostomy UK have extended their sessions.

 Due to being a head teacher and making the decision that I needed to take some time away from school after being diagnosed in December, lockdown since March has not felt too different. I have felt like I have been in lockdown since December. The Active Ostomates sessions have helped me so much mentally and allowed me to feel connected to others even though having to shield made me feel so isolated at times.

 I am so looking forward to future sessions and am incredibly grateful to Sophie and Colostomy UK.

We’re currently running virtual sessions for Mindfulness & Meditation, art, and chair yoga. To find out more and book your places just visit http://www.colostomyuk.org/active-ostomates/

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