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SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 16, 2017

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Marshfield woman urges more people to attend ostomy peer group

BY JIM DAY THE GUARDIAN (Note: permission has been given by the author, Jim Day, to repost this article on our website)

MARSHFIELD

Christine MacCallum wants more people who have had an ostomy to reach out for help. The 64-year-old Marsh-field woman started a peer group in Charlottetown in May. On average, 10 to 16 people attend the monthly gathering. Noting roughly 300 Island-ers are coping with the effects of having an ostomy, Mac-Callum believes many more could benefit from attending the group. She says many challenges result from ostomy, which is a surgery to create an opening from an area inside the body to the outside to allow a new way for wastes to leave the body. Paying for supplies, trying to muster up the courage to go out in public and finding the right diet are among the issues dealt with at the meetings. Speakers knowledgeable about ostomy, such as nurses and pharmacists, are invited to present valuable information to the group.

MacCallum notes people attending the meeting learn, among other things, about available benefits, such as claiming an annual disability tax credit. She urges people who have had an ostomy to come to the meetings, which are held at 7 p.m. the last Tuesday of every month at Murphy's Community Centre. "Everything is so secret about an ostomy," she says of the stigma. "Nobody wants to talk about it... I am hearing a lot and seeing a lot that people have no one to talk to (about their situation). It's very sad." MacCallum had an ostomy in 2003 as an emergency surgery. She spent 18 months in the hospital in Halifax. "They call me the miracle lady," she says. "They said I only had 24 hours to live when I went over to Halifax." She has had seven surgeries on her bowels. While it took a long time for MacCallum to get back on her feet, she says her health is "pretty good" today. Anyone interested in learning more about the group can contact MacCallum at 902-566-1459.

"Everything is so secret about an ostomy. Nobody wants to talk about it... I am hearing a lot and seeing a lot that people have no one to talk to (about their situation). It's very sad." Christine Mac-Callum

About ostomy

An ostomy is a surgery to create an opening (stoma) from an area inside the body to the outside. It treats certain diseases of the digestive or urinary systems. It can be permanent when an organ must be removed. It can be temporary when the organ needs time to heal. The organ could be the small intestine, colon, rectum or bladder. With an ostomy, there must be a new way for wastes to leave the body. Source - MedlinePlus

JIM DAY/THE GUARDIAN

Christine MacCallum, 64, of Marshfield uses a walker when she ventures out for a stroll. MacCallum is urging more people who have had an ostomy to attend a peer group she started in May.

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