Imagine that you just got the bad news that you have rectal cancer. The surgeon tells you that he has to remove your rectum/anus and you will have a colostomy for the rest of your life; before or after surgery you may need chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy; depending upon the stage, your 5 year survival ranges from 6%-74%. You are worried. In addition to wondering if you will survive, you wonder how you will ever manage a colostomy-its disgusting. Now imagine that you live in a place where the price of colostomy bags is prohibitive, the temperature averages 80 degrees F, the humidity averages 85%, there is no airconditioning, no running water and you are so sweaty that a colostomy bag won't stick to your skin! Yikes-this is the life of our Nigerian patients. Compare the following two pictures:
The Nigerian patient, with the makeshift ostomy appliance, is in a constant battle to keep the appliance attached to his skin. It often leaks and soils his clothes or just falls off. Fortunately-there is some hope for some. The Friends of Ostomates Worldwide-USA is a volunteer-run, non-profit organization providing ostomy supplies and educational materials to ostomates in need around the world. Each trip I take to Nigeria, FOW donates supplies which I take to my patients with colostomies, ileostomies, or ileal conduits. You cannot imagine how grateful these patients are when we present them with these ostomy treasures.