In this article, we ask questions to the people we love and are an important part of our lives: our family and friends. We don’t always notice that our disease and surgery also affect them. For example, my father told me that he was furious at first, but his anger eventually gave way to resilience.

It can be hard to see someone else suffering. It can also be hard to understand why someone is an ostomate when you haven’t seen them suffer. Here is how our family and friends reacted when they learned that we were about to undergo surgery or that we were ostomates.

When the gastroenterologist approached the subject for the first time, I told myself that there had to be something else we could try before resorting to this. Andréanne was only 19 years old, and I was afraid of her reaction. After a few months of seeing my daughter being incredibly sick, I was relieved when she decided to undergo surgery. She didn’t have any other option considering her health. As a parent, it’s difficult to see your child suffer. But it’s easier you’re your child accepts the situation and shows resilience. I am proud of my daughter’s strength and courage.
Julie, Andréanne’s mom

When Élisabeth told me she is an ostomate, I didn’t know what to think because I didn’t know much about Crohn’s disease. She told me at the start of our relationship, while we were out taking a walk. I think we had only started dating recently. I didn’t ask her any questions, but I think the pretty lady noticed the question marks that popped up on my face. She started explaining the effects of the illness to me. When she told me about her pouch, I didn’t really know what to think or how to react, but I knew that it wouldn’t change her awesome personality. That being said, I was worried about how our sexual life would be, but after doing it a few times, I quickly noticed that it doesn’t change anything (she is very sexy! ) And now, since the first day where I saw this woman, and since I started being by her side, I am happy, and I love her more every day!
Marc-André, Élisabeth’s boyfriend

Laurie-Anne told me about her stoma when we first met. I knew it wouldn’t change how I felt about her. She is amazing, and going through this made her become more mature, something I had been looking for in a woman. I love her and always will, even when Toma farts on me!
Michael, Laurie-Anne’s boyfriend

I didn’t know about Nicolas’ stoma right away. During our first date, he told me about his surgery, but not what it was about exactly. I’d heard about people with pouches before, but I didn’t know much about it. A friend of mine who’s a nurse told me that a stoma can be permanent or temporary. During our second date, he told me he had a permanent stoma: “So what… Wanna go out for a drink?” There was no shame or restraint in his explanations, and it made it easy to accept. I thought to myself” it’s nothing”! And after six months, it really is nothing. No secrets, no shame, no awkwardness, and no limits. We do everything we want to do. P.S. I think he’s awesome for doing races in mud and stuff.  
Nicolas’ girlfriend 

Sometimes, you think you really know someone. But experiences like these show you things you would’ve never imagined. Stéphanie’s courage, determination and will to enjoy life even more really impressed me. I am extremely proud and grateful that she let me experience this with her, broke taboos and is moving forward in this incomprehensible world.
Stéphanie, Stéphanie S.’s friend

At the time, it didn’t matter to me because I hadn’t realised what it was and what was coming. The only thing I thought about was that her pouch helped my girlfriend heal and overcome her cancer.
Valérie’s boyfriend

A special thanks is owed to our family and friends for their collaboration and for the crucial role they play in our lives. They help us move forward. They help us understand that we are strong. They make us realize that our stoma doesn’t make us less attractive.

“That person helped me so much in gaining confidence and showed me that if someone cares for you enough, he won’t let your ostomy stand in the way.”

Don’t miss our next special article on the ANA&Me blog: What would my tip/advice for a new ostomate?