My life has proven to be a journey of unexpected challenges.
I was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, Rhabdomyosarcoma (RMS), at 3 years old. I was cancer-free a year after my diagnosis but left with permanent ostomies which aid my bladder and bowel functions but require me to wear ostomy bags for the rest of my life.
I found it hard, embarrassing, and painful to be “different.” Through my journey and faith, I discovered who I could be despite my medical circumstances. My insecurities did not change overnight, but I learned to be a survivor. We have the ability to make a difference, to change lives, to be role models, and to be all that we can be from our life experiences. It is a blessing to have my desires and passions come true.
I have been a fashion model for over 18 years–yes, with two ostomy bags. To see my outer appearance, no one could ever tell I live with these adversities. I am now considered one of the top fashion models in my state. WOW!
My ostomy “bags” do not define me. I am helping cancer survivors, inspiring ostomy patients, motivating fashion models, and encouraging those suffering with low self-esteem. I used to say, “Why me? Why cancer? Why ostomy bags?” Now I say, “Why not me?” Just because you have difficulties in life doesn’t mean you can’t make it. I am not defined by my circumstances.
“Living my best life.”
Submitted December 10, 2018
This story is intended to convey a personal experience and, because every person’s experience is unique, should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional healthcare advice.
Jearlean you are truly inspiring! Keep on doing what you are doing and sharing your story with others.
Way to Fight Like a Girl, Jearlean! You inspire me to do the same!