21 February, 2017
In 1988, at the age of 52, I contracted bowel cancer. Fortunately, I was cured by the surgery but the result was a permanent colostomy. Four years later, I developed a hernia around the stoma and the surgeon recommended a support belt otherwise he said the hernia would gradually enlarge and require surgery.
I was, and still am, a very active person who enjoys sport and physically demanding hobbies such as DIY, gardening and so on. I was devastated that my condition my stop me doing the activities I loved to do. After investigating the market at that time, I could not find a product ideal for my needs.
I needed firm support in the stoma region and not a cumbersome garment that would inhibit movement or roll upwards. The only option left to me was to make a belt that would meet my needs – as a surveyor this was not a job requirement included in my professional capacity!
So the development began…
My fore runner became a belt that was made from a plastic flower pot and a two-inch fabric suitcase belt! (Pictured top left) As you can imagine, my belt received much curiosity and frankly amusement amongst stoma care nurses. However, despite that, they agreed that the design principle was sound.
Fast forward to 1996 and my belt – now called SASH – had been trialled and tested and was now available on the NHS Drug Traffic List – although not made of a flower pot and a suitcase strap anymore! (Pictured top right) I am delighted that my belt has helped so many people as well as myself and hope that my story will inspire others to not give up or give in to their condition but to find products (or even develop their own) to continue to live life to the full!
Over the years, I have been pleased to see how ostomates themselves are developing products suitable for our needs as well as making more aesthetically pleasing garments and products! This certainly wasn’t the case 30 years ago and long may it continue! A stoma does not need to be debilitating; I wear my belt every day and still keep as active as my body allows me at 81!