Mayra Goodwin, who was first diagnosed with colon cancer in September 2014, shares an update for today’s Faces of Blue and her experience with an ostomy bag. You can read the first half of her story here.
When I last wrote my story for Faces of Blue, I had already been diagnosed with stage 2 colon cancer and was learning to live life with a permanent colostomy. I am not going to lie: learning to live life with a bag has not been easy, but my wonderful husband and two beautiful children, my Church community, and even certain strangers along the way have provided the support system I needed to get through. My faith in God also plays an important role in my view and recovery.
Before I was diagnosed with colon cancer, the word “cancer” was not familiar to my family. It was overwhelming to learn so much at once, but I couldn’t have done it without them. Now, my hope is that I can spread the message of the importance of screening with others since I did not know it before I was diagnosed.
I wanted to write an update to let others facing an ostomy know that they are not alone. I remember how hard it was to get used to the bag. It is not easy. Only time and a positive mindset will prepare you for it, but today I can do anything and don’t let my ‘new normal’ control my life. In fact, I’ve named my bag ‘Juanita’ so that I don’t have to call it just a bag! My family knows who Juanita is and it makes talking about the bag easier. I’ve definitely learned a lot on the way and even had some funny and quite embarrassing moments – like when my bag started to pass gas in a sign language class where no one was talking. I’ve also had accidents when the bag wasn’t sticking well and in the beginning, I had a few complications like bleeding and skin issues but have finally overcome those problems.
If you are just getting a bag, it can be hard to get used to but remember, a stoma and its bag don’t define YOU.
In the years since my diagnosis, I had the opportunity to take care of my dear mom. In 2017 she went through a cerebral infarct which permanently damaged 90% of her brain functionality. It was very difficult to take care of her but I decided without hesitation to step in and became her caregiver with the help of my dad. I am an only child. My mom passed away peacefully nine months after her accident, surrounded by our care and love. That experience has been bittersweet to me. It gave me more strength than I ever thought I had.
Currently, I am very busy. Between being the family driver, a little bit of a homeschool mom, a housewife, starting my own bakery, and being a caregiver to my dad, I barely have time to worry about my condition. My health is very important to me, so I choose to eat lots of natural produce and very little junk food. I try to stay well hydrated every day and water is my best friend.
There are so many sweet moments in life and I’m grateful I am here for them. Yesterday, I overheard my daughter, now 12 years old, explaining that her mom is a stomate to her teacher and classmates during her virtual science class. It was so amazing to hear how much she knows about my condition. That definitely made my day!
I am extremely blessed to be alive, and I’m very thankful for every single second God has granted me on earth. I feel like I am the luckiest woman!
I hope my story will help others to overcome this challenge or a different one.