A Future Shattered - Uncover Ostomy
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A Future Shattered

When I started Uncover Ostomy, I was destined to change the future.

To me, the future involved a society free of ostomy stigma where it was simply a normal medical procedure done to save lives.

No one would think they were strange. No one would be embarrassed to have one.

It was not long after the launch of the campaign that I began to see this future budding in the young ostomates I came to meet. They would tell me that they knew about Uncover Ostomy and wanted to share their ostomy just like I had.

It was one special ostomate, however, who actually did show off her ostomy just like me.

Not long after Uncover Ostomy’s launch did Alison Atkins take the campaign into her own hands and had her own Uncover Ostomy pictures done:


“This girl,” I thought, “was the future of ostomy awareness.” She embodied everything I was hoping to instill in ostomates everywhere. The day I saw this picture on her Facebook page was the day I knew I was actually doing something good.

This is why it breaks my heart to have to say that Alison, in the coming hours, will pass away.

She is currently on life support at Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto, on life support-life support just long enough to let her family and friends say goodbye.

This morning, Alison’s sister, Jaclyn, had informed she had been found unresponsive and was taken to the hospital. At 6pm this evening, her sister contacted me once again to tell me it was time to say goodbye.

I went down the hospital and was greeted by Jaclyn, who took me into the room. We passed through a hallway that was flooded with people there for support. Her room, too, was full of people. I walked in and was met by her mother, Lyn, who held me tight and cried in my arms. I then hugged her father Gary, wishing this was a dream. I then walked over to her bed, and said my goodbyes to Alison.

As I stood in the waiting area later in the evening, I was met by Alison’s cousin. She asked me if I was Jessica, and I said yes. She then began to tell me how much Alison spoke of  Uncover Ostomy and how she completed accepted her ostomy because of the campaign. Alison’s grandmother came up to me right after, saying the same thing and thanking me.

As I was leaving, I said goodbye to Lyn, who, as she held me tight once again, told me she had wished tjat Alison would embody me in the future.

I had wished that too.

I will never forget the feelings of  inspiration and fulfillment that this little girl has given to me. She was the tangible proof that Uncover Ostomy was working. She was that reason that I do what I do.

I will never forget this precious little girl.

Love you, Alison.

Jessica Grossman
  • nova c.
    Posted at 03:10h, 27 July Reply

    how sad that she will be gone. your writing here is a beautiful tribute to the memories and hopes you have of her. prayers to you, her and the family…

  • Randi
    Posted at 03:22h, 27 July Reply

    This is so incredibly sad and I grieve for you and her family. I think that you did something wonderful for her. She got to do the photos. She had the confidence because of you and her family will always have the beautiful pictures of a beautiful young lady to cherish along with your tribute to her.

  • Zerlina
    Posted at 03:49h, 27 July Reply

    Sometimes we are here for a short time. You don’t always know why you are here. Alison’s time here had a purpose and her legacy of being free of social stigmas will never be forgotten. I never met her but her courage can clearly be seen in the photos. To Alison’s family and friends, may your grief be short and your memories long. To those who never met her, be inspired. Thoughts and prayers to the family and friends.

    Zerlina…..A proud Ostomate.

  • Laura M
    Posted at 03:54h, 27 July Reply

    A loss indeed. A lovely tribute. My thoughts and prayers are with her family.

  • Natalie
    Posted at 03:54h, 27 July Reply

    Alison is truly an inspiration, she’s a fighter.
    Beautiful article.

  • Karlton
    Posted at 04:55h, 27 July Reply

    Bless you Jess for sharing this, and God bless Alison and her family.

  • Jaimie
    Posted at 05:04h, 27 July Reply

    I think a bunch of ostomates should get together and wear bikinis/swim trunks and show off our bags for Alison. We should get some bags decorated w/ her style and have her name on them. What a great gal! We should keep it up! So sad that we won’t get the chance to meet this brave brave girl.
    Much love to her family & friends

    • Audra Williams
      Posted at 13:40h, 27 July Reply

      I think this is a perfect perfect perfect idea.

      Alison was my cousin. Thanks for the amazing gift of inspiration that you gave her, Jessica.

    • Rica Night
      Posted at 17:41h, 27 July Reply

      I’m in–though I’m a bit past my bikini days, so I’ll wear my purple tankini. Seems like the least I can do to honour this remarkable young spirit.

      Just tell me where and when.

  • Kelly
    Posted at 07:59h, 27 July Reply

    she won the fight. she may have passed but she lives on to inspire me, and many, many others. leaving a legacy of empowerment was her gift to all of us. thank you Alison.

    and thank you Jess


  • Kimber
    Posted at 11:29h, 27 July Reply

    this is very sad news, I remember seeing her images when she posted them on uncover ostomy a couple of years ago, bless her and her family at this time…an angel got her wings….

  • Amy Herskowitz
    Posted at 13:27h, 27 July Reply

    What a beautiful tribute. I know Gary and Lyn and only met Alison and Jaclyn at a most unfortunate time in my life (at my father’s funeral). Gary was my father’s student in junior high school, and then became his student again as an adult when my Dad taught him and his family how to scuba dive. I learned of Alison’s bravery, chutzpah and fighting spirit through her parents, her FaceBook page, her UO page and in person, only a few times. What a terribly tragic loss. Thank you for writing this. I love the suggestion that Jaimie gave – it would be a wonderful tribute in the spirit of Alison’s strength and determination. Love, strength and support to the Atkins family; your loss is our loss.

  • Lili Chitoi
    Posted at 15:44h, 27 July Reply

    My thoughts are with you Lyn and your family!
    I’m very sory for your loss…
    I’ll remember your daughter as I saw her, years ago, at that musical camp….an unfinished song…:(

  • Michele
    Posted at 16:06h, 27 July Reply

    I would like her family to know that because of her bravery I will be coming out of the dark about my ostomy. I truly wouldn’t be doing this had I not heard her story. Her family and friends are in my prayers and in my eyes she is a hero and I would like her family to know that , although I’m just one person, she has changed my life for the better.No more hiding or being ashamed. No more feeling different. I am who I am and if some people don’t like that ,that’s their problem not mine. I wish I could say these things to her so she knows how important what she did was. God bless her, her family and friends.

  • Jen Grant
    Posted at 16:12h, 27 July Reply

    I’m at a loss for words. What a brave young lady, such a tragedy. You are all in my thoughts.

  • sherry
    Posted at 16:52h, 27 July Reply

    I can not express my condolences to you and her family. I have a child with UC who is likely to face surgery and I have followed your page for three years so I had read about Alison and thought about her strength, obvious intelligence, maturity often. I have often thought of her as a role model for both myself and my daughter -on how to face this with such grace. To say I am sorry for her friends and family does not even begin to express what I feel. I live minutes away from that hospital. She and her family will be in my prayers today.

  • Barb Colterman
    Posted at 17:05h, 27 July Reply

    My thoughts and prayers are with the family!!

  • Rica Night
    Posted at 17:32h, 27 July Reply

    Oh, Jessica. What a heartbreak. Thank you for posting this exquisite tribute. You’ve given us all a gift–a marvelous portrait of one remarkable young woman from another equally remarkable young woman. Sadly, I never got to meet her, but through you, I get a chance to celebrate her life. Such a bright light to have been snuffed out so young.

  • Lauren
    Posted at 18:04h, 27 July Reply

    Thank you so much for this moving tribute to my cousin.
    I am numb.
    All my love,
    Lauren Atkins

  • suzanne
    Posted at 19:10h, 27 July Reply

    So hard to hold back tears, what an amazing girl.

  • Deborah
    Posted at 20:07h, 27 July Reply

    Before I even read this story, I saw the photos and my immediate thought was, “Wow, shes gorgeous and suddenly, I don’t feel so ugly.’ Then, I cried. Thank you and my prayers are with you.

  • AAnn
    Posted at 03:21h, 29 July Reply


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