Friday, July 8, 2011

Beachy Keen

The biggest argument I had - and continue to have - with my Mom is over bathing suits.

It goes a little something like this:

Jennie: “I want to wear a bikini!”

Mom: “I don’t think that’s a good idea.”

As I stood in the change room with a bikini on, my Mom beside me, and my ostomy hanging out, I began to question my comfort with the bag. My Mom insisted that it would make people feel uncomfortable and that it would be inconsiderate to wear a bikini. I insisted that I didn’t care how it would make other people think, I was proud of it and I wanted to wear a bikini. The entire event ended in tears as I stripped the bikini off and any hope of wearing a two piece in the summer. But the more I thought about it, the more it gnawed at me and bothered me. I was right in being proud of the ostomy, it was my decision and it had saved my life. So what if the outcome was wearing a bikini with a bag, the other outcome would have been me not here at all. And in my mind, that’s something to celebrate, and if I want to celebrate it in a bikini, then so be it.

There are lots of people who wear inappropriate things to the beach. Way too teeny bikinis, old men in speedos, but we don’t consider an amputee or a cancer patient a faux pas. Then why do we - or at least my Mom - consider an ostomy a no-no? I would understand if I wore a see-through bag where you could see my stoma, yes of course that wouldn’t be the right thing to do, I’m not going to force feed my stoma to others. But an ostomy where you see nothing but the fact that it’s adhered to my abdomen, well, I don’t see a problem.

The first time we went to the beach this summer, I wore a black one-piece suit. And you couldn’t see a thing, even when the bag was getting full. I felt great and empowered, but wished I was in my beloved two piece. The second beach outing, I donned my bikini with boy shorts hiked up over my bag (which is just high enough to merit hiking). In a word, I was thrilled. I have very few scars since my surgery was laprascopic, and they are barely visible anyhow. When we got to the beach and I took off my cover up, my Dad looked at me puzzled and said, “Wait, where’s the bag?”

I want to go to the beach and wear a bikini and have a good time and be proud of my body and what I’ve been through. Sometimes I have a bit of a “bite me” attitude - aka I’m darn well going to do what I want and I don’t want to hear anyone say otherwise. I wore my bikini with my ostomy, so there. And if I can change my Mom’s mind, then anything is possible.

The best thing you can do for yourself can only be decided by you, not for you. There are a hundred million different paths to choose because there are a hundred million opinions - you are entitled to yours. Be it wearing a bikini with an ostomy or your own undying ambition, you can do it, really you can.

And I know I’m going to do what I want to do, it’s a ‘shore’ thing.



  1. A - nice bikini;
    B - nice dog;
    C - for the record, I do not wear a speedo

    Jennie's Dad

  2. Hi, I'm a summer intern at CCFC and when I first got here, Julie cleared my table for me, but strategically left "Tales from the Throne" on my desk. I finished the book in less than two days (fell a bit behind on my work)and the stories in it are so inspiring. They show the strength and empowerment of the Gutsy Generation so keep posting, because often these stories make my day!

  3. You go girl! I think you are right on the money and so awesome. Rock that bikini, teeny or otherwise!