Having a stoma, temporarily or permanently, is a big change in a person’s life. For some people, it might take a lot of time and adjustment to accept life with a stoma. Others, however, adjust more quickly. How you deal with it depends on you and your situation — there is no right way or wrong way to living life with a stoma. We have gathered the stories of other people living with a stoma who share their experiences.


Colostomy since 2007
Country: The Netherlands
Occupation: Works part-time as an assistant in a veterinary clinic
Leisure time: Very sporty, enjoys speedskating (ice skating) and going to the gym; loves travelling

I am an optimistic person

I was diagnosed with rectal cancer in 2006 and had five or six chemotherapy treatments before getting a stoma. Realizing that I had cancer was a shock, but I have always been a very optimistic person and perceive life more as a cup half full rather than as half empty.

I had to wear the postoperative pouch for a couple of days before it could be changed to a normal pouch. The only nurse available that day had never tried to change a pouch before. Neither had I, but we did it together, it worked, and from then on I have changed it myself.

My husband had a difficult time accepting that I was sick and the fact that I had a stoma. He was afraid of how things would work out, but when he saw that I coped very well, it was much easier for him.

Choose the pouch that is best for you

I talked to a stoma care specialist at the hospital, but she did not tell me that I had different options when choosing a stoma pouch. I think it is important to have the opportunity to choose the pouch that is best for you, so I contacted different companies for samples. It is very important to me that the wafer is thin and flexible. It’s equally important that the pouch is as invisible as possible so that I can hide it in my underwear. The pouch I use does not fall down at the top when there is something in it, and that makes it even more invisible.

I have a stoma 24/7

Having a stoma means having to wear the pouch for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. So when I’m wearing a pouch night and day, it must be discreet and comfortable — and that is very important because I am a very active woman.

Leisure and travel

I work in a veterinary clinic and started working 9 weeks after surgery. Now I work 14 hours a week — not because of my stoma — but because of my age. My husband has retired and so will I within the next year. We like doing things together, but I also like to work. Working part-time is a good solution for me.

My husband and I have always been very active, and I like doing all kinds of sports: bicycling, skiing, speed skating, and going to the gym. Having a stoma does not make things different; after surgery I slowly resumed my exercise routine, a little more each day, and now I can do exactly the same as I could before my stoma surgery.

We have always travelled a lot, and having a stoma does not stop me; travelling is a part of our lives. We have some very good friends in Canada, and although I have had considerations about the long flight, I am looking forward to visiting them soon.