Toronto woman uses the power of social media to raise ostomy awareness
Posted February 24, 2023 11:10 am.
Last Updated February 24, 2023 5:55 pm.
Through the power of social media and her website, Torontonian Jessica Grossman is helping to raise awareness for sufferers of Crohn’s disease who require a surgical pouch referred to as the ostomy bag.
Grossman was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease when she was nine-years-old. Four years later, after being an in-patient at SickKids for two years, she needed to have ostomy surgery to survive.
“An ostomy is a surgically created opening that’s made from the end of your intestines,” says Grossman. “They fold it over and create what’s called a stoma and that’s where your system kind of eliminates itself and you have a bag on top because you don’t really have control.
“It really is just a lifesaving surgery that people don’t really don’t know that much about.”
Jessica says she wanted to change that and paint the surgery in a positive light. Grossman noticed resources for ostomies were limited and that’s why she started the website Uncoverostomy.org.
“There is nothing out there other than unfortunate medical journals and photos that really didn’t paint it in the right light, that’s why I decided to be the first one to actually show the ostomy in a positive way,” explained Grossman. “I started Uncoverostomy in 2009 as a way to share ostomy awareness. It really was just a website with photos of myself, kind of almost naked, but showing off my ostomy bag too. Really show people that it’s there and what it is.”
Grossman recently celebrated her 20-year ostomy anniversary and was even featured in People magazine for her work to bring awareness to ostomies, and reduce the stigma surrounding the bag.
“I’ve been reached out to by hundreds and hundreds of people saying they know someone with an ostomy or they never heard of it before and this is the first time they learned about it or there’s been a ton of people actually saying they’re facing the surgery and they’ve been terrified until they saw my article, which is the best feeling.”