Increasing Awareness of Inflammatory Bowel Disease and Stomas

As a young man, Darren underwent ostomy surgery due to Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). Today, he uses his open and outgoing nature to help increase awareness of IBD and break down the stigma of having a stoma.

Learn about Darren’s advocacy efforts, and how he encourages people with ostomies to be positive, active, and confident.

Darren has always strived to live a healthy lifestyle, and to stay fit by participating in his favorite sport: cricket.

In 1992, when Darren was in his mid-20s, he returned from playing cricket overseas with IBD symptoms. He had blood in his stools and stomach cramps, and he felt unwell. He was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis and spent the next 10 years trying various treatments including high dose prednisone, until his symptoms became worse.

After a consultation with a surgeon, Darren quickly had an ileostomy surgery, without much time to prepare. The operation definitely made his life better. “It gave me freedom to do whatever I wanted and go wherever I wanted, without worrying about being close to toilets,” he says.

Darren has found that men generally don’t ask too many questions when it comes to health issues. To help start the conversation about IBD, he came up with the idea of wearing purple cricket shoes, the colour associated with IBD awareness. People have asked about the shoes, which has led to discussions about his experience with IBD, his ostomy surgery, and how his stoma has improved his quality of life.

Darren’s tips for living with an ostomy

Darren knows firsthand that having a stoma is a big change in a person’s life. He has some advice on how to live your best life after ostomy surgery:

  1. Stay positive. “You will still have good days and bad days; I use my purple cricket shoes as a good leveler,” says Darren. “If I’m having a bad match or a down day, I look at my shoes and they remind me that things could be a lot worse; I focus on all of the positive things in my life, the freedom I have, and my long-term quality of life.”
  2. Find an ostomy product that fits your lifestyle. “I use the Dansac TRE pouch  because it’s comfortable, light weight, and I’m not scared it will come off – even when I’m swimming, playing sports, or working,” Darren says.
  3. Don’t be afraid to talk about your stoma with others. “It took me some time to build up my confidence and not feel the need to hide my ileostomy bag,” says Darren. “Now I feel as though any opportunity to encourage conversation will help bring more understanding and acceptance to people living with an ostomy.”

Darren strives to set a good example for his two kids by living an active lifestyle and continuing to play cricket. He says, “No matter what challenges you have in life, it’s important to continue to do what you love,” he says. “My stoma is just a part of me!”

People who provided testimonials received compensation from Hollister Incorporated. The testimonials, statements, and opinions presented are applicable to the people depicted. These testimonials are representative of their experience, but the exact results and experience will be unique and individual to each person.