A new awareness ribbon is poised to be pinned on lapels to raise awareness for the estimated 1.4 million Americans living with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, known as Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), and the estimated 600,000-750,000 Americans who have undergone ostomy surgery due to colorectal, bladder cancer, IBD, or birth defects; 75,000 new procedures are performed annually.
The two Western Washington women that created the ribbon hope it will raise awareness and begin a dialogue about IBD and ostomy surgery. When asked why the color brown, ribbon creator Lois Fink just laughs, “The “end product” we are dealing with is brown. A beautiful, rich, brown ribbon with a small, red jewel in the center representing the stoma just makes perfect sense!”
Proceeds from ribbon sales will be donated to Get Your Guts in Gear, and the IBD Quilt Project. Get Your Guts in Gear (GYGIG) is a not-for-profit organization that raises awareness of Inflammatory Bowel Disease and related conditions through multi-day cycling events; www.ibdride.org. The IBD Quilt Project, a non profit organization, generates public awareness for Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, colon cancer, and ostomy surgery. Crafted by and for the IBD community, the quilts provide an outlet to express the thoughts and experience of living with these chronic diseases, as they tour the country for education and support; www.ibdquilt.org. Follow the Ribbon on Facebook.
The IBD & Ostomy Ribbon will be featured on the morning news on Februry 9th, on the local Fox affiliate in Seattle, Q13 Fox! This is the second time this station has featured the Ribbon. Tune in and see Dr. Tim Zisman and Lois Fink, creator of the IBD & Ostomy Ribbon, as they talk about the success of the Ribbon and how it has become an international movement! Thank you to Q13 Fox us and giving both a face and voice to the IBD and ostomy community.
I applaud Lois Fink and her team for increasing the awareness of individuals who have undergone ostomy surgery with the Ostomy Ribbon awareness program. I have seen too many patients delay necessary surgery secondary to worry and concern regarding the potential post-operative challenges of an ostomy. This oftentimes lifesaving, but body altering surgery, has historically been associated with unnecessary embarrassment and stigmatization. Today, meticulous pre and post-operative planning, patient education along with modern surgical technique will return most individuals to full and productive lives with minimal long-term impact to themselves, their partners’ and family. Increasing patient, provider and community awareness along with the compassionate outreach from the ostomy community has lead to increased patient acceptance of this surgery. It has been gratifying to witness a more rapid and successful transition from disease to health in my ostomy patients. I attribute this in a large measure to the heroic work of Lois Fink and others who have championed their individual success in facing life and winning with an ostomy. -William Holderman, M.D.