I’ve always known the importance of having a voice and advocating for yourself.

I’ve had ulcerative colitis since I was 12. I was never told by doctors to get my colon removed, so I had to do my own research on ostomies. I always had to go to the bathroom, which made my work as a therapist with hour sessions hard. It took a toll on my mental health, and I knew I couldn’t live like this.

Finally, I switched doctors because I knew I wanted surgery. I took myself to the ER and said I wanted my colon removed. The next morning, I spoke with a GI doctor. In tears, I told them not to let me leave here with my colon. My surgery was scheduled for a few days later.

Recovery was rough, but I felt better right away and so validated to have my colon removed. I couldn’t believe I walked around with it in my body—it should have been gone years ago. Going into this ostomy journey, I had a different attitude than most people. For me, this was a new beginning, and I had an attitude of gratitude. It helped me get through.

As a therapist, I practice resiliency and living what I preach. Once I felt more comfortable, it was important for me to carry the message the way it had been carried to me. I made lots of changes after my ostomy. I stopped drinking, I went through a divorce, and I began dating again. I had to open up about my ostomy, like, “When do I tell people? How do I do it? How do I still feel sexy?”


I think lots of people think ostomies are limiting in their lives, but I’ve found the opposite to be true. I scuba dive, I wear all the other clothes people wear—my limitations are far less than they were before.

Rachael’s Advice:

Take some time to grieve. Recovery is difficult with diet changes at the beginning. After recovery, your life can open up more than it ever has. As soon as you accept the fact that this is your life—that you have an ostomy—then you can really dive into all the resources and sources available. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. Acceptance has helped me make the most of what’s available to me. We have the option to either jump into this new chapter of our lives or wish things were different when we know they won’t be.