Maintaining Your Passions With an Ostomy

Melissa Marshall is proud to present the newest addition to the No You Cant'cer Foundation, Melissa Marshall's Bag of Tricks and Ostomy Tips! Every Tuesday, Melissa will be back to introduce you to an all-new ostomy product, or accessory, and tell you where to get it. She will highlight products you may already have, some imported from other countries, and a few little items that you may have never thought to include in your own ostomy regimen.

Here is a video of Melissa singing live at Bar One in Resorts Casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey. She shows that nothing can stop your passions, not cancer and definitely not an ostomy.

Anyone with an ostomy, or anyone who has had any kind of major surgery, knows how difficult it can be to recovery your pre-surgery activities, hobbies, and sometimes even your careers. Before Melissa received her ostomy bag in 2013, she had been a top lounge performer in the Atlantic City area for more than twenty years. Almost every weekend, and sometimes even week nights, you could find her on stage at one of the city's top casinos. She spent decades cultivating her craft to suit her patrons and the provide the high-energy show her audience loved. However, the life-saving ostomy surgery in 2013 involved cutting through some of the major muscles in Melissa's diaphragm and she feared she would never sing again.

As you can read in some of the earlier blog posts, if didn't take long for Melissa to reinvolve herself in music. She was writing "No You Cant'cer" days after her ostomy surgery. Still, she never knew if she would have the ability to go back to doing what she loved. So Melissa took her time, easing her way back into the world of singing, listening to both her doctors and her own body. It took months of physical therapy to strengthen her stomach muscles and gain the stamina to stand on stage again. Melissa attended several fitness classes, such as pilates and light walking with her service dog Mari, to help strengthen her core. But she never rushed the healing process, and nor should you.
While she had built up the courage to sing again at small, family centered events, such as her step-daughter's wedding, Melissa finally got back up on stage at Resorts Casino in Atlantic City on July 11th, 2015, after almost two years of surgeries and recovery. (Picture Above)

It took time and patience for Melissa to rebuild her career to where she is now, but your ostomy shouldn't limit you. Your passions and hobbies have not left your life. You can still be an avid skiier, go for your daily swims, participate in the latest fashion trends, or whatever else you love to do. They just might need a little modification to fit with your new body. For example, before a night on stage, Melissa adjusts her day:
  • She begins by eating a large breakfast and limiting her food intake that day, while making sure to stay hydrated. Learning your personal input/output ratio is very important to knowing how to participate in your passions and lessen the change of leakage.
  • She sings for forty minutes at a time, with twenty minutes in between to rest her vocal cords and empty her bag, if needed. She never passes up an opportunity to ensure her bag is empty. No one would like to have an accident in front of a room of people if they can help it!
  • She wears sturdy pants that rise high over the bag to ensure she has a sleek profile and to keep from accidentally pumping it while dancing. This a good tip for anyone who lives an active lifestyle.
  • She never pushes her body too far. While, as you can see in the above video, Melissa prides herself in her high-energy dancing, she knows when to stop, rest, or when to skip the dancing all together. Besides, all that movement was a progression. She didn't come out of surgery ready to dance, so you shouldn't push yourself to run a mile before you're ready.
Having a good support system is also important. Besides your ostomy support group, which was discussed in previous episodes, Melissa surrounds herself with her family and friends. As you can see in the picture below, many came out to support Melissa's first night back on stage at Resorts in 2015. And some have never missed a performance.
An ostomy isn't a life sentence, it's just a new life. It's one that has been created to help ease your pain, it could be from the result of a tumor extraction, or something caused by a chronic illness. A Life after an ostomy can be full of soccer, hiking, travel, even body building, and of course, music.
And don't forget about our fabulous 10% off necklace sale and enjoy FREE shipping for the month of January, as well as a giveaway from Survivor Chest, which we discussed in last week's post. You can see all our necklace colors at our store HERE.    
Instagram @Noyoucantcerfoundation    
Email: Noyoucantcer.Melissa@aol    
Phone: (609) 464-4647

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