About 50 people gathered at Lake Ontario park in Kingston on Saturday to support the 3rd annual Stoma Stroll — a walk in support of ostomy, a fairly new alternative for individuals that struggle to process bodily functions.
Meghan Darrach, founder of the Kingston Ostomy Support Group, used to be one of the many individuals that struggled with her bodily functions.
“I was constantly running to the bathroom, I was in so much pain. It stopped me from doing my activities in my daily living,” Darrach said. “I just couldn’t get through the day sometimes.”
Darrach’s struggle is a symptom of Crohn’s disease, something she was diagnosed with when she was nine years old. After struggling with her symptoms for several years, she decided to get an ostomy, a pouching system that helps collect bodily waste. That was three years ago.
For an ostomy to work, individuals have to go through a surgical procedure, where an opening is made in the abdomen to allow the ostomy to collect waste. Darrach says many who live with similar symptoms as hers don’t like to openly discuss them. She wants to change this by breaking the stigma around bodily functions, raising awareness and providing support.
“We just want to let people know that it’s not the end of the world, its not the end of the road, you can totally live a full functioning life” Darrach said.
WATCH: Ostomy awareness, eliminating the stigma
The Kingston Ostomy Support Group that Darrach founded has done just that.
“You’ve got people you can talk to, people that understand, people that you can call,” said Richard Delve, one of the support group’s members.
READ MORE: Ostomy awareness, eliminating the stigma
Every year, the Kingston Ostomy Support Group organizes the Stoma Stroll to help raise funds to support Ostomy Canada. They also use a portion of the funds raised to help send youth to ostomy camp, so they can be more educated about and accepting of their condition.
This year they’re hoping to raise $7,000 dollars, but organizers say beyond the monetary goal, they want to take people from the shadows of shame to an open and accepting environment where they can get the help and support they need.