Learning About Ileostomies
- Famous radio host Adele Roberts was diagnosed with stage 2 bowel cancer in October 2021 and had an ileostomy.
- An ileostomy is a surgical procedure that creates an opening in the abdomen, according to the American Cancer Society.
- The intestines are brought to the opening to form a stoma, and a stoma bag (plastic container) is attached to collect waste from the intestines.
- The 44-year-old BBC Radio 1 DJ broke a Guinness World Record over the weekend at the London Marathon, becoming the fastest woman with an ileostomy to complete the race.
- Bowel cancer is a general term for cancer that starts in the large bowel, but we mostly use the term colorectal cancer, colon cancer, or rectal cancer depending on the location, in the United States.
An ileostomy is a surgical procedure that creates an opening in the abdomen, according to the American Cancer Society. The intestines are brought to the opening to form a stoma, and a stoma bag (plastic container) is attached to collect waste from the intestines.Read More
Roberts took to Instagram to share the news, captioning her post, “WE DID IT Audrey. Thank you to every single person who has helped make today possible. We’ve just set a #GuinnessWorldRecord for the fastest marathon with an ileostomy. … less than 12 months since I stopped chemotherapy.”View this post on Instagram
“Anything is possible,” the reality TV star continued, “For those warriors living with cancer, for all the incredible ostomates around the UK and for the heroes of the NHS. That was for you.”
Audrey is the name Roberts has given to her stoma bag, which she shared a photo of on her Instagram page just days before the big race.
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“Come on little Audrey. We can do this. #RebelliousHope #WeRunTogether,” Roberts wrote alongside the photo, which showed her f**k cancer socks, Adele Audrey racing tank top, and a few packs of SIS Science in Sport Go Isotonic Energy Gel.
About two weeks before the race, Roberts announced she wouldn’t be racing “alone” as her “trust little friend Audrey the #stoma” would be with her.
“She’s essentially a part of my small intestine that’s currently hanging out of my stomach… which isn’t ideal but Audrey is the very reason I’m alive – she’s a LEGEND and I’m so grateful to have her,” she explained in another Instagram post.
“My body post-cancer is very different and it’s still recovering. Fuelling my body is an absolute mission. Anything I eat or drink will end up in my bag… One way or another, I’m literally going to have to carry my food and drink with me. It’s given a whole new meaning to the term ‘bum bag.’ It’s going to be a huge challenge but that’s why I’m doing this.”
View this post on Instagram
“Firstly I feel extremely lucky to be alive. You can’t control what happens to you in life but you ARE in charge of how you respond. Keep your spirit strong. Like the incredible Dame Deborah said: ‘Rebellious Hope,'” she added. “I hope I can represent those living with cancer & their families. All the incredible ostomates around the UK. You’re all made of tough stuff, always remember that… and I hope I can do you proud. Let’s show the world what we are capable of and what our bodies can do!”
The Guinness World Records also took to social media to share the news, tweeting, “Adele Roberts completed the fastest marathon with an ileostomy (female) in 3:30:22 Congratulations, Adele!”
Following her major accomplishment, Roberts jokingly told TV and radio presenter Gabby Logan on BBC, “I can retire now, that’s it, I’m done!”
“In training, I only went 21 miles so I didn’t know if I could finish it with the stoma. I’m over the moon,” Roberts said, according to The Telegraph.
Adele Roberts completed the fastest marathon with an ileostomy (female) in 3:30:22🙌
Congratulations, Adele! 😍 #LondonMarathon pic.twitter.com/SjsOhdscql
— Guinness World Records (@GWR) April 23, 2023
She said, “We got the record. I was like, ‘oh my gosh did we actually do it.’ For ages, I didn’t know my time because my watch broke and I couldn’t tell because I set off quite late… so I was just really hoping that I’d managed to do it.”
“Thank you so much to everybody who was actually in the race, there were so many lovely people on the course and also everybody who came out to cheer even though it was raining,” Roberts continued. “We did it, up yours, cancer.”
Adele Roberts’ Bowel Cancer Diagnosis
Adele Roberts, who is best known for appearances on the U.K.’s “Big Brother” and “I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here!” TV shows, was diagnosed with bowel cancer in October 2021. She learned she was battling the disease after visiting her doctor for persistent digestive issues.
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Roberts ultimately underwent chemotherapy, finishing up her treatment less than 12 months ago, to make sure all the cancer was gone.
When Roberts announced her diagnosis on Instagram, she warned her fans, “PLEASE make sure you get checked out if you have ANY concerns. The sooner you’re able to see your GP or talk to someone the sooner you can get help. If I hadn’t I might not be so lucky. As I’ve learned over the last few weeks, there’s no ‘normal’ with cancer. Sadly it can affect anyone, at any age, anytime. It doesn’t discriminate. Early detection can save your life.”
In an earlier interview with “Good Morning Britain” on the warning sign that led to her diagnosis, Roberts, who has had her partner Kate Holderness by her side throughout her cancer battle, explained, “My digestion started to get a bit funny (and) after what we ate in the jungle I wasn’t surprised.”
(She spent time in the jungle on the British television show “I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here!” On the show, a number of celebrities live together in a jungle environment.)
“I noticed when I went to the toilet things like mucus and then blood. I didn’t know whether to call the doctor because of Covid; I didn’t want to bother anyone,” she continued. “But it got so consistent that I thought I’d better call up just in case.”
Prior to getting diagnosed, Roberts said she was “pretty much” vegetarian and exercised, saying “I tried to keep fit and well and eat the right things.”
What Is Bowel Cancer?
Bowel cancer is a general term for cancer that starts in the large bowel, but we mostly use the term colorectal cancer, colon cancer, or rectal cancer depending on the location, in the United States.
Bowel cancer, like all cancers, presents its own unique challenges for patients on the road to recovery. However, Dr. Heather Yeo, a surgical oncologist and colorectal surgeon at New York Presbyterian Weill Cornell Medical Center, wants previously spoke with SurvivorNet about how far the treatment of this disease has come.
“One of the most exciting things about my job is that we’ve made a lot of progress on treatment options,” Dr. Yeo said. “However, patients are still — while they’re living longer, they are still living with colon cancer, and so I think it’s really important that we talk about how some of the things in your life affect you.”
Dr. Yeo also reminds people of the importance of colorectal screenings such as colonoscopies because most colorectal cancers can be prevented early with screening.
“In the United States, on a national level, colorectal cancer has been decreasing for the last 20 years,” Dr. Yeo explained. “And much of that is thought to be directly due to screening for colon cancer.”
What Is A Colostomy (Stoma)?
When considering colon cancer surgery, many patients will often hear the word “ostomy” during treatment. This refers to part of your intestines being hooked up through the front of your belly, where you’ll go to the bathroom through a bag that attaches to your skin.
According to Dr. Daniel Labow, the Executive Vice Chair and Vice Chair of Quality at Mount Sinai Health System, this procedure is much less common now than it used to be. However, for patients who do need an ostomy, there are many resources and supplies available that make them very discreet. A plastic bag covers the ostomy so it doesn’t smell, and if it gets full, you can just go to the bathroom and empty it. You’ll get in a routine so it doesn’t feel like a big deal at all.
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“Once you get over sort of the psychosocial effects, you can lead a totally normal life,” Dr. Labow told SurvivorNet in an earlier interview. “It’s not painful. It’s just getting used to a different way.”
Colostomy or Ileostomy?
When the large intestine (colon) is brought through this opening in the skin it’s called a colostomy. Whereas an ileostomy is when a part of the small intestine (ileum) is attached to the skin.
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Your bowel movements are usually less solid than they used to be, and ileostomies tend to produce more watery/mushy content, compared to colostomies. You will probably have more bowel movements than you previously had, about 4 to 8 a day (but it’s not mandatory to empty the bag every time).
Colon Cancer Survivors Embracing Stoma Bags
Living with a stoma bag will of course take some adjusting, but cancer survivors have opened up to SurvivorNet about how they have embraced their stoma bags despite feeling apprehensive at first.
Francine Susco, who was diagnosed with colorectal cancer in 2016, previously spoke to SurvivorNet about adjusting to life with a stoma bag.
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“I started to embrace her and rub her,” Susco said about her stoma bag. “And I used to talk to her when she wasn’t behaving when she was squirting too much. And I would say, come on baby girl, come on. We’ll try again. Let’s try again. And I’d clean her up and she’d behave…The fact that I was able to handle it, and dress with it, and cover it. I began to embrace it.”
Contributing: SurvivorNet Staff
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