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You give 'back to us in such meaningful and impactful ways'

Rusty-plum and burnt copper leaves still cling to two hardy maple trees outside our office.

For weeks, as other trees shook loose their colorful playful coats of gold, scarlet and orange, these maples confidently retained theirs.

We watched the trees’ beauty intensify sunset after sunset, as golden hour light animated the colors of their leaves on the evening breeze.

We observed the trees’ bold, flinch-less response to afternoon heavy rains that needled the strength of the leaves.

It is only today, Thanksgiving eve, that these trees are beginning to loosen their hold on the leaves. Now, one by one, leaves flutter to the ground.

As we prepare for Thanksgiving, we are reminded of how these few-years-old trees mirror the spirit of many of the ostomates and their families we have met. The confidence, strength, and resilience we have witnessed is impressive.

Take the middle-school student that reached out to us a few weeks post-surgery. The teen was looking to make a connection with other ostomates, and she contacted us for support. We were immediately struck by her initiative and eagerness to learn.

While working with the teen and her family, she expressed conviction in her ability to return to school with a bag and shared that she was secure with herself and was not concerned if classmates noticed the bag under her clothes and brought it up.

Instead of being stricken with nerves, fear, and insecurity, she was composed, inquisitive, and welcomed feedback and tips on how to address some challenges she had with keeping the barrier on the skin. We were speechless. She is a shining star and an example of how, when an individual is faced with life-saving ostomy surgery, life with a bag can still be positive and rewarding.

And then there is the gentleman we met just a few days before his 90th birthday. He and his daughter, who had reached out to us, welcomed us into his home so we could address his inability to keep the barrier adhered to his skin without nightly leaks that led to daily bag changes.

The warmth and gratitude they shared with us transcended any “thank you.” And his kind and optimistic outlook brought a smile to our faces. An ostomate of only seven months, he immediately asserted that life with a bag is “not a big deal.” Smiling, and with a twinkle in his eye, he said he can still read his morning prayers and have a drink at night. Upon request, we paid him another visit a few days after his birthday party. He bragged about the caterer and declared he wants them back for his 100th birthday. Wow!

These are just two individuals we have met that remind us of the trees outside our office window – strong, resilient, and confident.

We work with individuals of all ages and of all stages of illness – pre-op, post-op and continuing care. Each person faces their ostomy journey in their own way, and that’s OK. We’re here to help everyone, regardless of where they are in the process.

What is constant is this: while our mission is to empower you, we continually find you enrich us.

So, as we gather around our tables this Thanksgiving, we give thanks to all those we meet through our work. We cannot thank you enough for giving

Bob Reiling

President & Executive Director

Deborah Rose

Assistant Director & VP of Public Relations

Dean Barile

VP of Marketing & Development

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