(Used with permission)
Why I Attend Support Group Meetings
by LeeAnn Barcus, St Peters, MO; via Chippewa Valley (WI); Rosebud Review; and North Central OK Ostomy Outlook
No one wants to be pushed into a support group or made to feel that they have to be part of one, but the benefits are so tremendous it is a shame that many ostomates are missing them. Trust me, when I first went to an ostomy support group meeting, I was one of the youngest people there. The only other young ostomate there was with her mother. All the others were much older than I was. Talk about not fitting in. Well, I almost did not go back. I felt that this group could not offer anything to me in any way. Was I ever wrong!
I went back and continue to attend, because I get so much out of this group. There is a great age difference between most members and me. Many of them are old enough to be my grandparents, but like grandparents, they teach me so much, and not just about ostomies. They have taught me much about how to deal with diversity, life in general, and how to laugh at some of the most down-trodden things. The older folks made me realize that I make a difference to them. For some, I am the reason they come to the meetings. I also make a difference to that young person who walks through the door on meeting night and sees that there are younger people there. I make a difference when there are topics other than colon cancer. I make a difference when I do the Relay for Life walk with them all. Making a difference is what it is all about, at least to me, and I feel like there is a reason for me to be there.
Certainly, there are times that I would rather not be the only young one at the meetings. I go anyway, and invariably, I am presented with an opportunity to help someone over a rough spot or to just put a smile on someone’s face. When I look around and see those smiles and happy faces, I am again reminded that I had a purpose there. On this day, it was not all about me. On this day, my purpose was to be there for others, and my heart rejoiced because I was there!