Meghan’s Story

I couldn’t ride in a car for fear of having an accident.

I was diagnosed with Crohn’s at age 13. I went into remission a year later, met my husband, and we married in December 2015. I went in for my routine colonoscopy in July 2016, and the doctor said he found precancerous cells in my colon. All I could hear was “cancer,” and all I could think was, “I don’t want to die.”

2 weeks later, my husband had to deploy—1 month between learning I had to have surgery and having it. I was very against ostomy bags and thought it was going to ruin my life. I was honestly at the point where I would rather deal with cancer than an ostomy bag.

My surgery was scheduled for the end of September 2016, but I wanted to get a second opinion. The doctor agreed that unless I wanted to live with this forever, my colon and rectum had to be removed. “Imagine being a young mom and finding out you have cancer,” I remember the surgeon told me. It made me realize this isn’t just for me—it’s for my husband and future children. This is a turning point, and I need to do this.

By a miracle, my surgery got moved to the beginning of September, so my husband was allowed to return home early from his deployment. We spent 5 days in the hospital together, but he had to leave before I was discharged.

It was so many emotions. We just got married, he deployed, and I didn’t see him for 8 more months. He came back and it’s like I was this new person because I now had this bag. We had to re-learn each other and figure out what this was going to be like—marriage and intimacy.

When you go through something like this, it puts life into perspective. Recovering made me realize how sick I actually was—I felt so bad all the time that I thought it was normal. The surgery allowed me to feel healthy again and not limited or tied down to the nearest bathroom.

I wasn’t ashamed of my bag, but I did try to hide it for the first year. I finally decided to post on social media because I didn’t see anyone else posting about it. I’ve had my bag for 7 years now, and last summer was the first time I fully accepted it when I wore it out at the beach.

This life-altering event has allowed me to live for myself. In a way, I’m thankful for this traumatic experience because it gave me an appreciation mindset. It’s my turn to do what I want, not worry about others, and enjoy life—because life is too short to care what others think.


Meghan’s Advice:

Find community. No matter how much someone can empathize, no one gets it unless they’re going through it. Living with an ostomy can be isolating, and it’s hard to know if someone has one. Talking with someone who also has an ostomy can do wonders for your mental health, and you may even make a life-long friend.

Meghan’s Instagram: @emc_brown