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Living with a stoma is not easy. For many women, a stoma is synonymous with a loss of self-confidence or a sense of attractiveness. And that's a big mistake! The stories of ostomy patients who learned to love themselves prove it! Remember that the stoma is a symbol of victory, winning against disease.

I love myself with a stoma - says the dentist from Rypin,Magdalena Rumińska , one of the participants of the photo session "Stomia is a symbol of victory" with Marianna Kowalewska.

- This session gives me a way and an opportunity to express myself. The disease changed a lot in my life and probably gave me as much as it took. It took twelve years of my life, but it gave me incredible confidence and the belief that I was a tough chick. Now I am certainly a better version of myself. Certainly more aware of her body. I think that by exposing myself during the session and taking such risks, I can make a difference - says the participant.

- Through this session I would like to show that each of us is different and unique. Our stories, the stories of the girls participating in the session differ from each other - we differ, for example, in the length of the disease and what each of us experienced, but we have one thing in common - we have so much strength in us that we can move mountains.

I went a long way towards self-acceptance. At one point, evendisgusted my body . Today I can say with full awareness that I love myself completely. And I would like to show all girls who may have a stoma on their own example that you can love it and you can live with it. Live really great. At the news that I had qualified for the session with Marianna and Tutti, I started screaming for joy. I knew this was my occasion to tell the world something. To show myself as I really am. Because each of us wears a mask every day, hides something there. And I don't want to hide anymore.

I have had a stoma for almost two years, but the history of the disease dates back to 2006, when I started my studies, changed the city, surroundings and diet. It was then that constipation, alternating with diarrhea, started. I blamed it all for life changes and it didn't bother me. With time, the disease made itself known more and more often. The long minutes spent in the toilet became an increasing problem. Still, unaware of the danger, I ignored it until the momentbleeding appeared. It was unfortunate that I started bleeding in the year of my defense, when I also took my first job. It seemed to me that he alth can wait …

Good to know: What diseases does rectal bleeding mean?

I came across my first colonoscopy when bleeding reached about a glass of blood a day. A long and uneven fight began. The initial diagnosis was colitis ulcerosa (nonspecific ulcerative colitis). Initially, I was prescribed all the standard medications, but to no avail. Doctors gave up, and I was treated, among others, by in Bydgoszcz and Poznań. Finally, in 2015, I came across a doctor who - it seemed - found the cause of my suffering - intussusception.

It turned out that the muscles holding my intestine gave up andthe intestine collapsed . I was quickly given asigmoid resectionand it was supposed to end my problem once and for all. As it turned out later, the relief lasted only a month. Then everything - pain, bleeding, and diarrhea - came back. In addition, the postoperative scar has become home to a keloid - I was supposed to never show my stomach again, because it looked … not very aesthetically pleasing.

I was tired and angry at the very sound of the word "doctor". I couldn't look at myself. I hated my own body for what I was going through. As I walked past the mirror, whether dressed or not, I looked away. I often cried when nobody saw. I felt a prisoner of my own body. Then my friend gave me the number for another doctor. She said that when I was ready, I would use it. I decided to make one last attempt. The doctor turned out to be a wonderful, warm man who told me on the first visit that "as long as I have the strength to fight, he will fight me."

What's funny, I haven't had a diagnosis so far and I still don't have one. My symptoms were similar to those of UC, but the histopathology results showed the image typical of Crohn's. Today, doctors are of the opinion that it is a CU mutation, or simply the third - yet undescribed inflammatory bowel disease (if you are special, you have a bang, eh?). I was treated experimentally. The drugs relieved the bleeding a bit. I kept losing two glasses a day, it was still constipation, diarrhea and pain, as if someone were holding my insides in a vice. But I fought because what else was left for me? During all these years, I had more than 12 colonoscopies, rectoscopies and anoscopies, I do not even count, several argon coagulations of the mucosa. And nothing helped.

Finally, the day came when after I came to the hospital with another pain and bleeding after 12 years of being ill, I heard "We dostoma ". Honestly? Throughout all these years of illness, I was defending myself against what I could. I imagined it was the end of the world. That nothing worse can happen to me. At that point, I was so tired of it all that I took it for granted. I remember my mother's reaction to tell the doctor that she was planning to mutilate me. He replied that so far the disease was crippling me.

The next few months were difficult times. The operation is scheduled for April 26, 2022. In the meantime, in March, I was taking a vocational exam, which is one of the worst experiences in my life - very exhausting mentally and physically (of course, I passed, although I checked the results on the phone in the recovery room). I decided to prepare myself for what was to come. I went to talk to a psychologist, I wanted to learn about life with a bag. And here I was surprised - there are not many places on the Polish Internet where a person can learn how to really live with a stoma before surgery. I found contacts abroad quickly, learned everything I could, including videos, how to change the bag, how to care for the stoma and what you can do with it.

It helped me a lot. After the surgery, it was much easier for me to adapt, and in July I started my adventure with dance fitness and dance, which I fell in love with and to this day this love continues.

Today, after almost two years, I am a completely different person.I gained confidence, I love my body and my scars.Today I look at my body with love, not disgust. I am not ashamed to show myself in my underwear (and without it). For a long time I have thought about getting involved in some way and helping those who are at the beginning of this path - terrified and perhaps lonely in this disease - now I have this opportunity. I believe good comes back. Someone helped me once, now it's my turn!

Professionally I am a legal advisor at the OIRP in Toruń, I work in a law office in Toruń. Outside of work, I love fantasy and comics, I play RPG and computer games, and most of all I dance. It allows me to forget about all difficulties.

The photo session was carried out for theStomalife Foundationand the Tutti underwear brand. Its aim is not only to promote the brand, but also to show that women with a stoma should still feel feminine and beautiful.

The stomia is a chance for a new life - saysJoanna Wasielewska- I have had it for 2 months, I am a new addition to stoma. I suffer from Crohn's, the only solution was a stoma due to operations and complications - says the heroine of the photo session. And she adds that she took it in the projectparticipation thanks to Marianna Kowalewska.

- It was she who gave me the courage to show the world what problems we, ostomates, face every day. One of them is, for example, the fact that we cannot find the underwear that interests us. I'm also here because I don't want the stoma to be taboo. Because of all the bad things we read on the internet, we are afraid of surgery. Such actions make us realize that it is the disease that causes us to suffer, we hide from the world. A stoma opens us up, motivates us to get up every morning. To all those who are faced with this decision, I want to say: do not be afraid. Illness locks us up and limits our functioning. A stoma helps, makes life easier and gives you a chance for new opportunities. Of course the stoma can have some effect on how we feel. Somewhere in the back of your head is the thought that this bag is there. Today, at the session, I feel feminine. " - emphasizes Joanna Wasielewska from Wrocław.

- It started innocently in June 2016 with diarrhea, increased inflammation, a hospital stay and the first suspicions that it was a chronic bowel disease. The following months were accompanied by pain after eating, I had to deny myself almost everything to be able to function normally, but there was no question of normality, because the pain interfered with my daily activities, made me not feel like doing anything, after work I returned to my apartment and put I was going to sleep, my body was exhausted.

Medications did not help, one of the next visits to the doctor ended with the decision that it was time for surgery, because there were more problems. I was prepared that the operation could end with a stoma and I was very scared. Today, with the knowledge I have, I know I was not really stressed out. On October 10, 2022, I woke up after a long operation - a different person with a bag over my stomach. A stoma saves lives and allows you to return to normal. I feel that I have come back to life and most importantly -I do not feel pain, I have energy for new things, the stoma does not limit me, on the contrary - it gives me hope for better . It's been three months after the surgery and more than three years since I had chronic enteritis. Today I am happy because I work, travel and enjoy small things. Don't be afraid of a stoma, give yourself a chance for a new life.

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