Been catching up on the blogosphere tonight, and was taken aback by a post on Iain Dale's blog, informing us that he has been diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes this week. While Iain is right to say 'it could be a lot worse', the diagnosis must still have come as a blow. I note from his post that he debated about sharing what is very personal information before deciding to publish. I'm pleased that he did so because it helps 'awareness' and early dignosis when individuals in public life allow themselves to become a platform for discussion. It gives the discussion more impact.
I was in the same position 5 years ago when I was diagnosed with Colorectal Cancer. It was a huge shock to me and the family at the time, and for a while I assumed that an early death was inevitable. After a few days I decided to be entirely open about my illness - mainly because I had been so incredibly, stupidly blind to the symptoms, which had been obvious for months. Since, I have learned that early diagnosis is crucial to maximise chances of successful treatment. Its this blindness which costs so many Bowel Cancer sufferers their lives. I was so so lucky that the tumour was at an early stage, and some pretty radical surgery led to a complete recovery. Regular readers of this blog will know that I publish Bowel Cancer related posts from time to time.
The second reason that I'm so public is that I do not see why people who have suffered illness should have to hide away. I've just been on holiday, and I've been out running and relaxing by the pool with no shirt - exactly as I've always done. I must say that I've never seen anyone else with a colostomy do that. Over the last 10 days I did notice several people (especially Barbadians) staring at my colostomy cover, probably wondering what it was. For those of you who don't know, it looks like a raised round 4 inch diameter plaster stuck on my abdomen. Because I colonically irrigate every 2 days I never have to wear a 'colostomy bag'. Only about 3% of British ostomates irrigate, which I think is a pity, because the process gives us back so much more control of our lives. So well done Iain. You'll do good through your decision to be open.