This week is Stomal Therapy Awareness Week and we had the privilege of speaking to one of our stoma patients Dr Ian White who shared his tips on living with a stoma.

Ian, 72, is a general practitioner at Glenroy. He was diagnosed with high grade bladder and prostate cancer and had undergone his cystectomy operation in February 2017.

Ian now has a permanent urostomy stoma that he has named ‘Jack’ after his late father and late elder brother! A urostomy stoma is a type of diversion made from a section of the small bowel to divert urine from the bladder.

In the span of three and a half months, Ian has recovered tremendously well and has adjusted to the ‘new normal’, all thanks to the amazing support from his family, friends and the stomal therapy nurses at SVPHM. He is now back at work two days a week, he already has plans to travel, he’s back socialising with his friends and spoke about watching the footy match with his mates recently and they joked about him needing a bigger urostomy bag to last for a 90 minute footy game with beers.

He also told us how his 5 year old granddaughter, Nina, took much interest in Jack (the stoma) and insisted on meeting him. Since then, Nina has always incorporated Jack in her drawings of her grandfather.

We asked Ian if he had any tips for dealing with a stoma bag should you ever need one.

“Don’t have your expectations too high. Some people may expect life to return to the way it was before the cancer diagnosis. Sometimes you just have to lower your expectations to avoid unnecessary disappointments.

Just absorb all the information you can from the stomal therapy nurses at St Vincent’s Private. Ask as many questions as you can. They have a wealth of knowledge and experience, they are the experts in the management of any stoma and wound issue, and may also provide continence advice”.

Unfortunately bladder cancer doesn’t present itself with definitive symptoms. Generally symptoms may include:

  • Blood in urine
  • Change of urinary habits
  • Back/lower abdomen pain

Having any of these symptoms does not necessarily mean that bladder cancer is present. Kidney or bladder stones, or an enlargement of the prostate in men, could also cause the presence of blood in your urine. In any event, consult your doctor as soon as possible if you have any of these symptoms.