Opportunities with a stoma

It’s 2012, the year of my ostomy operation and I have no idea what the future holds. But straight away it was all about recovering from surgery, learning new routines and some tips and tricks to help me through the early steps of my new life with a stoma bag.

Then came the time to return to work. This was it – my new life –  but just what was this new life going to be? I soon began to see that being an ostomate, (and someone who was committed to sharing his experience and celebrating his new life) was going to give me so many new and exciting opportunities that I could only have dreamed of before.

The opportunities I’ve had… 

Always a bit of a poser, it was incredible to be asked to be a swimwear model for Respond, featuring in Issue 3 of Connect magazine way back in 2015! That was a fantastic weekend in Bristol meeting new friends and being given the chance to try out the brilliant swimwear for ostomates available from Respond.

Modelling aside, I have been involved in doing interviews for radio and for podcasts, featured in local newspapers, appeared on magazine covers, written regular blogs, given talks and taken part in webinars. I have visited new places in the UK and later this month I am looking forward to going out to Northern Ireland to do some product application videoing for Eakin. This is yet another opportunity to visit somewhere new and meet up with friends I’ve got to know via video conferencing in the past.

But undoubtedly the biggest impact has been the ambassador work I have been doing for Respond and Pelican as well as First Cymru; being a voice for inclusion and one of the faces of First Cymru’s recruitment programme for new drivers. I have another video shoot coming up in a week or so where I will be talking about coping with my ileostomy in the workplace. I recently had an internet meeting with a German bus company to give my input for an App they are developing.

I have had to brush up on a few skills along the way; talking to people and engaging with them comes fairly naturally to me but to make a more formal presentation to people in a variety of contexts has been challenging, yet immensely exciting. From the Liberty Stadium to the Senedd – I have learned that to give your best you must be well prepared and practise your material as often as you can so that nerves don’t get the better of you on the day. Know your stuff!

Life since my surgery has had many twists and turns that bring joy to my life every day. But what means the most to me is knowing that what I do helps so many people along the way; I hope that it will continue for a long time to come!

Keith @keiththom2014

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