Hi everyone! I’m Keelie Bruce, and I’m from Fort Worth, Texas. I was diagnosed with Stage 3 colon cancer in June 2018 – four days before my 31st birthday. I’m now Stage 4 but not letting that stop me from living my life. You can find me on Instagram @kwb0044.
This year Ostomy Awareness Day was Oct. 3. I find that fitting because on Oct. 8, 2018 I had surgery for an ileostomy and right colon removal because I had an almost complete bowel obstruction. Having an ileostomy has provided so many opportunities to laugh, with the first one being just days after my surgery.
I had started the slow process of starting to eat again and had some strawberry yogurt for breakfast. I ate a little too much so just a few minutes later I threw up everywhere. I mean all over my face, hair, gown and the bed. While at the time it was very NOT funny, looking back now, I think I could have easily been in The Exorcist and it is something I can laugh about.
That’s also probably when I decided I would refer to my stoma as a “he.” I like to tell people Stumpy, as my family calls it, is a he because men are full of s**t – like my ostomy bag. Sorry to those who may find that offensive; I just couldn’t help it. Fortunately, I have had only a few bag failures in the past two years and they’ve all been in private at family or friends’ houses. However, one of the most common places it happens though, is my brother’s house which only reinforces my idea that men and s**t go together.
I’ve been on a two-week vacation to Europe with a lot of physical activity and I didn’t once have an issue. But visiting my brother in his home, a 1.5 hour drive away? Apparently, that’s just too much since the last two times I’ve been there, I’ve had to make an emergency bag change. I don’t know what the connection is, but somehow my brother and my ostomy have one that likes to create accidents in his house. I will remind him in those situations that his home is cursed.
I can’t even keep track of the number of times I’ve laughed at how loud having an ileostomy can be. It doesn’t happen often when I’m at work, but does on occasion. It’s a good thing I work with kids because they love a good fart joke or sound!
The United Ostomy Association of America estimated 1 in 500 people have an ostomy in America. That’s a lot of people! Although it’s not something I would have chosen if I’d had a choice, I’m alive because I have an ileostomy. And while there are times I still haven’t completely adjusted to it, even after two years, I’ve learned (for the most part) not to be embarrassed when unfortunate things happen but to find the humor and laugh at the situation.