Uncover Ostomy is an awareness campaign sparking a positive conversation about the ostomy. We share positive stories and thought provoking images—dare we say sexy?—to spark this conversation. We invite you to share your comments and ideas on this website, on Facebook, on Twitter and everywhere that you engage with other people.
An ostomy is a surgically created opening from an internal organ such as the intestines or ureters to an external point on the body, usually in the abdomen, so that diseased or damaged portions of the patients’ organ can be removed or treated for disease. The piece that is created to pass through from inside the body to outside is called a stoma. Bodily excretions such as stool, mucus and urine pass through the stoma into a special bag on the outside of the body that the wearer empties on a regular basis.
Ostomies are used in the treatment of diseases of the intestines and/or bladder and are most commonly used to treat inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohns/Colitis as well as certain cancers. The ostomy can be a temporary or permanent procedure depending on a number of factors including type of condition and the person’s needs.
The three most common types of ostomy are:
Colostomy – a portion of the large intestine is removed or re-routed temporarily or permanently
Ileostomy – a portion of the small intestine is removed or re-routed temporarily or permanently
Urostomy – urine is diverted from the kidneys, often to bypass a diseased or removed bladder
IDEAS, or the Intestinal Disease Education and Awareness Society is a registered Canadian charity. IDEAS works through education and awareness to eliminate the stigma associated with intestinal diseases. Because intestinal diseases are a leading cause of ostomy surgeries, Uncover Ostomy is a natural extension of IDEAS’ awareness efforts.
Jessica was born in Toronto, Ontario, Canada on September 3rd, 1989. She grew up as a normal girl, loving the arts like acting, singing, and dancing, and participating in after school sports and science clubs. However, at the age of 8, her world turned upside. She began to have stomach pain, refused to eat, and was losing weight – fast.
The year’s following were full of pain, lethargy, and missing out on a normal childhood. After coming down with a terrible stomach flu, her Crohn’s began to flare, and at 11 years old, Jessica spent the first 9 days in the hospital, 7 of which she was not allowed to eat.
For the next few years, Jessica basically lived at the hospital. In and out, but mostly in, unable to eat, sleep, go to school, and on the verge of death.
When Jessica was 13 years old, she was given a choice: have ostomy surgery or die.
The choice, to her, was obvious.
Since surgery, Jessica has received her B.A (hons) from the University of Western Ontario and her M.A from New York University and specializes in digital media, community management, and marketing and acts on the side.
In grade 12 , Jessica was asked to create a media campaign to spread awareness of a topic of choice. Without a second thought, Jessica choice to do the project on her ostomy, not only because it was a unique topic, but because Jessica knew many people were unaware of what it was. Jessica took this project as her first chance to share her story and to spread awareness. She wanted to use this as a way to express the acceptance and confidence she had in herself and in her ostomy. If she could be comfortable with it- anyone could be. The ad campaign was well received by her classmates.
The message, Jessica felt, needed to be spread wider. She brought the idea to Rob Hill, the founder of IDEAS and together, the two worked together, with the help of John O’Shaunessy to create what is now known as Uncover Ostomy.
Since it’s inception on October 3rd, 2009, Uncover Ostomy has reached thousands upon thousands of people all across the world in order to change the negative stigma associated with ostomy surgery.