Pictures provided by Rhiannon—Rhiannon is on the far right.

Rhiannon Clarke

Having the opportunity to attend Ostomy Camp at Easter
Seals in the summer of 2019 changed my life. I was so eager to go and meet other kids who relate to the same struggle I have faced with my health. After spending the majority of my summer the previous year in the hospital, it was so special to be able to have a proper summer experience without having to worry about if I was able to participate or not because of my illness.

Attending camp, I had only had my ostomy for less than a year and was diagnosed 4 months previous to that. There were so many things about my illness and my ostomy that I had questions about and so many things I didn’t know about until meeting the nurses, camp councillors, volunteers, and my peers at camp. I met so many amazing people with extraordinary stories, a lot similar to mine. As soon as I arrived at camp, I felt so welcomed into one huge, accepting family. Within 24 hours of meeting my cabin group, we connected so deeply that it felt like we had known each other for years. Even though all of us are spread out around Canada, we still talk almost every single day since camp. At camp, we bonded over group activities such as archery, game days, hiking, white water rafting, high ropes, and many other things I would have never thought that I could do with an ostomy. During group sessions and even on our own time, it was extremely rewarding for me as one of the oldest girls attending camp to help out and give advice to those who are younger than me and are having to go through struggles that I have been through. As much as I was able to help others out, those around me were and are still there to support me. I returned back home after camp with so much new knowledge of ostomies and chronic illness as well as a better understanding and confidence in my own life with an ostomy and chronic illness.

Thank you endlessly to The Ostomy Manitoba Association for funding myself and many other youth to travel and attend Ostomy Camp. I’m looking forward to being able to go back for my last year at camp in summer 2020 and graduate with the lovely people I can call my friends.

Sincerely, Rhiannon

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