Ostomy Awareness Day 2017 is October 7! It comes around once a year as a day to raise ostomy awareness and work to shift the perception of ostomies into a positive light.
My experience has been that many of the people I’ve told about my ostomy know someone close to them who either has an ostomy, or has come close to having one themselves. Spreading a little awareness can go a long way toward educating the public that an ostomy is often a gift of life.
Participating in Ostomy Awareness Day 2017 is a great opportunity to show that having an ostomy is an adventure that does not have to be taken on alone. There are tons of resources, support networks and other ostomates who love to help make the journey more bearable.
What’s great about spreading ostomy awareness is that you don’t have to have an ostomy to participate. Or, you might have an ostomy but not be ready to come “out of the ostomy closet” yet. That’s okay, you can still post information without saying “I have an ostomy and you need to know about it”.
Many people with ostomies connect with other ostomates and become friends. You could always post some information and say you’re posting to support a friend. Not a lie, right? Don’t think you have any ostomy friends yet? You have me, so you can post on behalf of your friend Karin over at NewbieOstomy.
Here are some simple things you could do to raise ostomy awareness at any time (it doesn’t just have to be on October 7):
Post about ostomies on social media!
Perhaps you’re wondering what you can post – don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.
Ostomy 101 Infographic
The United Ostomy Association of America (UOAA) has created a nifty new 1 page infographic called Ostomy 101. You could share it on your Facebook page. If you prefer non-internet awareness, you could print it out an post it at your local library or coffee shop, or bring it to your next doctor appointment to give to their office.
Navigating the Journey Together
Fill out the UOAA’s Navigating the Journey Together sign (you can write in the name(s) of the people who helped you adjust to life with an ostomy as a way to say thank you. Take a photo of you with it and post it on any/all of your social media accounts. You could even tag the UOAA Facebook page and the people who helped you if you’re friends with them. If you don’t have an ostomy, you can write in the name of someone you’ve supported through an ostomy journey.
Post your own ostomy story
Post a photo of you doing something awesome “despite” having your ostomy and share your story. People are nosy and love to know what you’ve been through.
I do this for my stomaversary month every year. I acknowledge how sick I was, I acknowledge how scared I was, and I acknowledge how much I’ve healed/grown as a person/accomplished. Then I thank the people who helped me do all of those things. Because I know that without their support, I would have had a much more challenging experience. This is what I wrote this year
Remember: your attitude toward your ostomy will likely shape the attitudes of those around you, so stay positive.
Get hashtag happy on social media. Here are some ideas for you to tag your posts with:
Instagram: Use the hashtags #runforresilience, #ostomy5k, #ostomyawarenessday, #ostomyday2017, and #myostomyadventure, #ostomy #ostomyawareness, #nocolonstillrollin. Remember to tag @uoaa_ and @ostomyadventure in your posts too!
Twitter: UOAA’s handle is @UOAA and I’m @NewbieOstomy. Use the hashtag #ostomyday2017, #ostomy, #ostomyawareness
Ostomy Awareness in Your Community
Blue or Green Lightbulbs & Balloons
Purchase a blue or green lightbulb for the exterior of your house. Put some blue and green balloons out front. Maybe your neighbors will ask what they’re about, a perfect conversation starter.
Run 5k for Ostomy Awareness
One fun way to celebrate Ostomy Awareness Day is to run, walk, bike, crawl or cheer on participants for this year’s Run For Resilience Ostomy 5k.
5K’s are a great way to get some exercise and raise awareness. My favorite part about the Run for Resilience Ostomy 5k is that while it’s offered in a couple major cities every year, it’s also offered virtually. This year’s virtual run is on Saturday October 7.
On October 7, there are in-person runs in Durham, NC, Cookeville, TN , and Mesa/Phoenix, AZ.
On October 14, there are in-person runs in Boise, ID, Portland, OR, or Birmingham, AL.
If you’re not near any of those places you could participate in the virtual run on October 7. If you don’t want to participate physically in the run, you can still use social media to post some words of encouragement to the people who are running. Use the hashtags #runforresilience and #ostomy5k. You can also post on their Facebook page.
Planning for Next Year
There are some things you can do longer term to prepare for Ostomy Awareness Day next year, like:
- You could work with your city to get an official proclamation passed declaring Ostomy Awareness Day in your community.
- Work with a local restaurant to hold a fundraiser and donate the funds to the UOAA or the UOAA Ostomy Awareness Campaign Fund.
- Send a letter to your local newspaper editor to let them know about Ostomy Awareness Day.
- Order a subscription of the Phoenix magazine for your local library.
- Get involved with the ostomy advocacy.
- Visit the UOAA’s Ostomy Awareness Day 2017 webpage for even more ideas and check back next summer to see what they’ve got in store for next year.
You don’t have to do all of these things every day or every year, but just picking one thing off this list could really make a difference for someone so I hope you choose to participate in Ostomy Awareness Day 2017.