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WOC Patient Testimonials
Read the patient testimonials below and view our videos to "recognize the difference" a WOC nurse makes.
Why I Want to Become a WOC Nurse
By Rachel Cantrell, BSN, RN
My reasons for pursuing a career as a wound, ostomy and continence (WOC) nurse stems from my personal experience of becoming an ostomate in December 1994. I was somewhat familiar with the potential of having an ostomy placed after growing up with my ostomy patient father and having Crohn's disease since I was 16. The day I had my ostomy placed was an emergency. I was pregnant and had become very ill. My physicians discovered after almost two weeks of IV meds that some portion of my colon had perforated. I went into surgery thinking it was going to be repaired and woke up to an ileostomy. I was sad, yet thankful, to be alive and overjoyed to learn that my unborn child remained healthy. Within a week, I developed an infection in my incision and had to have the lower portion opened. The dressing changes were the worst pain I have ever experienced in my life thus far. There are no words to describe it except silence and tears.
The dressing was to be changed each shift. I will never forget when the second shift nurse had forgotten to change the dressing, forcing me to ask the third shift nurses to change it. Essentially, I volunteered for pain. The two male night nurses were amazingly compassionate as they held my hand and comforted me while the gauze was pulled out from my wound. My feet rested on their chest as a brace for the ongoing pain.
Four months, two weeks and thirty-six hours later I gave birth to a beautiful baby boy named Nathaniel Anthony. I felt life could not get any better than that moment. Gazing upon ten perfect fingers and toes, I knew I was blessed.
About four months later, I was back in the hospital due to further complications. I told the doctors to do what they had to in order to get me home to my beautiful baby boy. On September 28, 1995, my ostomy was made permanent. This is a date that will live in my memory for years as an ending, but also a beginning.
Why do I want to be a WOC nurse? To be the one to hold a hand, dry the tears, to give hope, to be a resource to my patients and colleagues and to share the life and love that God has given me with others.
When I had a colostomy earlier this year, I was emotionally devastated and physically inept at changing the pouch. I don't know what I ever would have done without the expert care and compassion of the very competent WOC nurse, Eileen McCann! She was so patient teaching me just how to drain and to change the appliance and she was also so very kind and encouraging every time we talked either on the phone or when she visited me, both at the rehab facility and at my home. She over-extended herself to me and insisted that I call her at any time if I had any questions or problems. That was so comforting to me! I am 75 years old and was very depressed about what had happened to me -- Eileen knew just what to say to cheer me up and to help me feel better about myself, which helped me immensely to cope with my new way of life. Thanks to Eileen, I now think nothing of draining and changing the appliance and can do it quickly and efficiently. I'm back to my old self and I now go about my daily life without giving a thought to the colostomy (other than tending to it when it needs tending to!).
I was so very fortunate to have Eileen as my WOC nurse and now as the dear friend that she has become to me. With her more-than-competent nursing skills and her cheerful and bubbly personality, she is indeed an asset to her profession. Every hospital should have a WOC nurse like Eileen on their staff to help patients like myself who have so much to learn about caring for their new colostomy. I thank God every day for sending Eileen McCann to me!
As one who found himself facing health issues and life altering changes that needed careful consideration, when I needed calm reassurance and knowledgeable and caring support, that support came in the form of two wonderful Wound/Ostomy/Continence specialty nurses. Frankly, I could not have been treated better by my surgeon and his support staff, but the ability to spend time with these two fine professional nurses enabled me to learn what I needed to become self-sufficient and confident in my abilities to move forward. Because of them, living with a stoma is as natural as my life was prior to my surgery. I have the opportunity to undergo surgeries to reverse and reconnect, but honestly, I don’t believe that is necessary to enhance the quality of my life.
Diagnosed with a rare form of bladder cancer at the age of three, Joanna Joy Burgess, BSN, RN, CWOCN, CMLDT, courageously underwent both chemotherapy and radiation. Treatment also included the removal of Joanna’s bladder and the creation of a urostomy, a way to divert urine by connecting the ureters to a conduit made out of the small bowel which is then brought to the outside of the abdomen through a surgically created opening called a stoma. A bag is worn over the stoma to collect the urine.
Read more of Joanna's story to discover how her illness lead her to a career as a WOC nurse.
In November 2010, urologist Joseph Salisz underwent surgery for bladder and prostate removal. With a family history of prostate cancer and increased symptoms, Dr. Salisz sought a surgical attempt at a cure, and an aggressive University of Michigan urologist performed the surgery that resulted in urinary diversion through ureteroileostomy. Shortly after surgery, Dr. Salisz experienced trauma when he was not given the proper care that he required when faced with his newly acquired ostomy bag.
Discover how a WOC nurse made a difference in the care Dr. Salisz received. Learn more >>
Faced with a diagnosis of Adenomatous Polyposis Coli, a condition which increases a person’s risk of developing colorectal cancer, Daniel Shockley underwent a total proctocolectomy with ileostomy surgery in July of 2012. The surgery removed portions of his large intestine including the colon, rectum, and anus.
Learn how the care he received after surgery helped Daniel stay positive and become an advocate for ostomy patients across the US.
Recognize the Difference with Janice Beitz
Recognize the Difference with Nancy Tomaselli