I chose to live!

If you were given the choice between surgery for colorectal cancer that would leave you with a permanent colostomy or ……death, which would you choose? If you say you would rather die than have to live with a bag then I would have something to say to you.

20 years ago I chose life. For me chemotherapy would not have been effective on the unusual type of cancer I had. Radiation was not possible because I had an auto-immune disease: Systemic Scleroderma. So I had seven hours of surgery and spent 10 days in hospital. I have been a “bag lady” for 20 years. Today is my 71st Birthday.

Happy Birthday to Me! I celebrate every birthday because I am lucky to be having birthdays. Here are the things I would have missed if I had said I would rather die than have a bag.

  1. I saw both of our children graduate from High School.
  2. I went back to riding horses after 30 years away from them.
  3. I saw our son graduate with an Honors Master of Science at the School of Oriental and African Studies at The University of London.
  4. After 29 years together, the love of my life and I, finally decided it was safe to get married . No need to rush these things!
  5. I was in the birthing room when our daughter gave birth to our Grandson. I welcomed him to our world.
  6. I was there when our daughter married a wonderful man at a beautiful ceremony in our home.
  7. I went from Training Level up to the FEI Intermediare 1 in dressage competition.
  8. I found my horse of a lifetime in Biasini and we have a marvelous time together.
  9. Both of my children are now independent adults. They are both people who care about others and treat people of any ethnicity with respect. I am immensely proud of both of them.
  10. I thank my body for all it has done for me. It recovered from that cancer surgery, it has accepted two replacement hips, it has accepted life without a gall bladder (only a minor adjustment) and it has given me a dramatic and very rare remission from Scleroderma.
39575690_2046295848721974_5358169961745350656_o
My daughter with her step daughters , her son and her husband at their wedding August 2018.
Brother and sister on the wedding day. 2018

I would hate to have missed all those things , those wonderful times, just because I didn’t want to have a colostomy bag. The bag is at worst a minor inconvenience and at best life saver. And let me ask you something else. If you do not know me personally would you have known I was a bag lady?Can you look at these photos of me competing in Florida and know I am a bag lady?

Be honest …you would not have known! So if you or someone you know is faced with having an ostomy support them to say “yes”. Say “yes” to life with a bag! It’s worth it.

93 Comments Add yours

  1. Thanks for sharing this story!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. wow, you are an inspiration for everyone around. So proud of you.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Tina Schell says:

    Knew you had the surgery, wouldn’t have guessed about the bag Anne. You are a marvel and anyone who makes a different choice should learn from one who, like you, knows the value of the gift that life truly is

    Liked by 1 person

    1. anne leueen says:

      It was not a hard decision for me to make and the bag is just a adjustment to a different way of doing things. Thanks for the supportive comment TinaπŸ˜ƒ

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Janne Rumbough says:

    Wonderful story , life is the way to choose always . I am very proud and so happy for you ! You are my hero!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. anne leueen says:

      Thank you so much Janne. I always think of you when I start for dip down and it brings me right back up again.πŸ’•

      Like

  5. Happy Belated Birthday! An amazing spirit!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. anne leueen says:

      Thank you Sascha!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. cigarman501 says:

    So cool, Congrats on a life that continues to be well-lived.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Many happy returns on your birthday and no, I would not have known about you being a bag lady.
    All the best for your continued good health 😊

    Liked by 2 people

    1. anne leueen says:

      Many thanks for your good wishes!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. dprastka says:

    No worries, I’ve been so busy I’ve been away from it too!

    Liked by 2 people

  9. kunstkitchen says:

    Happy Birthday to you and many more happy years with family, friends and horses – and dogs too. Thanks for sharing your story. Nope. I would never had guessed that you are a bag lady.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Happy belated Birthday! My cancer scare didn’t have such severe consequences, but you are right, life is so worth it. So many sadly don’t have a choice.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. anne leueen says:

      Yes many do not have a choice and that is another reason I celebrate getting older. Many are denied that privilege. Thanks for commenting Viola.

      Like

  11. Alli Farkas says:

    Happy Birthday! Here’s to life! And, I love item #4πŸ˜‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. anne leueen says:

      Thank you Alli!

      Like

    2. anne leueen says:

      Ok glad you liked that one Alli!

      Like

  12. Avery says:

    Wow! Happy birthday!! Good on you for sharing your story!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. anne leueen says:

      Thanks Avery. I am hoping that there may be someone who reads my story who will be encouraged to know there is a good life possible with an ostomy.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Olivia May says:

    So glad for you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. anne leueen says:

      Thank you for taking time to comment Olivia.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Emma Cownie says:

    Blimey! For somereason that fact that you were a “bag lady”, as you put it, escaped my notice. You are pretty incredible. Well Done You! Happy Birthday!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. anne leueen says:

      Thank you Emma. I know someone who has a brother in law who has refused to have the bag outcome. I felt I should tell my story so people could know it is not an impediment to a happy life.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Emma Cownie says:

        Wow! I’d have taken the bag option too!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. anne leueen says:

          Good! I’m glad to hear that Emma!

          Like

  15. Yes no can find it. Today you showed other side of you in little detail and came closer to readers with your words maa. May the divine power blesses you with more lovely days, lovely life and inspire peoples.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. anne leueen says:

      Thank you Subbashini. I felt it was important to tell my story in the hope that others who may be in the same situation can find some hope. πŸ™‚

      Like

  16. David says:

    The best part, we have gotten to know you.
    Happy B-day, Anne.

    πŸ™‚

    Liked by 2 people

    1. anne leueen says:

      Thank you David. That is a lovely comment.πŸ™‚

      Like

  17. Sri says:

    Happy Birthday

    Liked by 1 person

  18. I am so, so glad that you said “yes”. ❀ This world is so much better with you in it, and I am so much richer for having met you!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. anne leueen says:

      Thank you Mary. I have always felt you were a kindred spirit.

      Like

  19. You look as graceful as your fine horse – Happy 71st!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. anne leueen says:

      Thank you Laura! 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  20. cagedunn says:

    Happy Birthday, and thanks for this post — I may direct a few acquaintances to this post (I volunteer in places where they need to see these moments).

    Liked by 2 people

    1. anne leueen says:

      Thank you Cage and I hope the post may be able to help someone. 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  21. Jacklyn Brooks says:

    Happy birthday Leueen!!
    Your courage, tenacity and the support you show your friends is a testament to who you are.
    You deserve to be celebrated!
    Kindly, Courtney

    Liked by 1 person

    1. anne leueen says:

      Thank you for reading and leaving this nice comment. Good to hear from you Courtney!

      Like

  22. etikser says:

    Happy Birthday! You have so much to be proud of.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Lovely…you deserve the best of what life has to offer. Thanks for sharing. Seize the day!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. anne leueen says:

      Carpe Diem indeed ! thanks for this great comment. I like it!

      Like

  24. nelkumi says:

    Happy Birthday!

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Happy happy 71st birthday dear Anne! I’m so glad you chose life and so grateful we’ve met here too. Here’s to many more happy years to come! πŸ€—πŸ’– xxx

    Liked by 2 people

    1. anne leueen says:

      Thank you Xenia. I am so glad we met. I have just been reading Between Heather and Grass again and enjoying it so much.

      Liked by 1 person

  26. Mark Tulin says:

    Great choice, Anne.

    Liked by 2 people

  27. Robyn says:

    What a wonderful message! Thank you so much for sharing. I will remember this post forever and guide myself or others by what I now know. AND I hope you have a wonderful birthday!!!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. anne leueen says:

      Thank you so much Robyn. I hope that you may be able to help someone else to choose the bag and go on to lead a happy life.

      Liked by 1 person

  28. Happy birthday Anne, I wish you all the best!!!

    Liked by 2 people

  29. Anne, wishing you a very happy, funfilling and healthy birthday πŸŽ‚ 🎊

    Liked by 2 people

    1. anne leueen says:

      Thank you so much Deeksha!

      Liked by 1 person

  30. sandyjwhite says:

    And I’m so glad you chose life, Anne. I would not have met you on WordPress!
    Happy Birthday!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. anne leueen says:

      Thanks SandyπŸ˜ƒ

      Liked by 1 person

  31. Happy, happy birthday!
    To answer your question, I had no idea about your health history or that you wear a colostomy bag. What a wonderful example you set for all of us with various health challenges, bag or no bag!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. anne leueen says:

      Thank you! I know that various health challenges can give us some moments with our riding but we are lucky to have out horses. I actually once had a medical specialist tell me that he thought horses had helped in my survival. I thought at first he was joking but then he told me he was from Bahrain and his family had raised horses and he believed they helped people.🐴

      Liked by 1 person

  32. Paula Light says:

    Happy birthday! And thanks for sharing your wonderful story! πŸ’

    Liked by 2 people

    1. anne leueen says:

      Thank you Paula and you are most welcome. I am happy to share it in the hopes it may help someone else.

      Liked by 1 person

  33. bekitschig says:

    You had me in tears by number 3. Thank you for sharing & good health!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. anne leueen says:

      Thank you for this lovely comment. πŸ’•

      Like

  34. Irene Tron says:

    You are incredible, Anne. I am grateful you chose life because I have had a chance to get to know you through WordPress. For that, I thank you. πŸ˜ŠπŸ’™

    Liked by 2 people

    1. anne leueen says:

      Thank you Irene. I am glad I got to know you too and to see you lovely photos that so often brighten my day.

      Liked by 1 person

  35. Linda book says:

    You write a stunning, open and revealing declaration of a life well chosen and well lived. You toughed out tough choices. To say that you are remarkable is an understatement. You are a life affirming champion, and an Olympian of positivity.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. anne leueen says:

      Thank you and I am honored to be an Olympian of positivity!πŸ˜ƒ

      Liked by 1 person

  36. In that comment I wrote that you are an inspirational lady, and that I have reblogged your post. People will feel reassured by it.

    Happy birthday my dear friend πŸŽ‚πŸΎπŸ₯‚❀

    Liked by 2 people

    1. anne leueen says:

      Thank you Susie I got it but was late approving it. Thanks for the reblog. I hope it will help someone.

      Like

      1. I know it will. I am lucky to have you as a friend 😊

        Liked by 1 person

        1. anne leueen says:

          And I am lucky to have you as a friend. We are a couple of gals who are living the fit life and keeping our chins up.

          Like

          1. Always doing the best we can under different circumstances 😊❀

            Liked by 1 person

  37. Susan Towns says:

    keep kickin it darlin, you are an inspiration. Smile, sweat,, laugh and live!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. anne leueen says:

      Thank you!πŸ˜ƒ

      Like

  38. My comment isn’t here.

    Liked by 1 person

  39. You are the most inspirational person I know. Happy birthday to you. I reblogged this post as I know it will help many people. Much love. β€πŸŽ‚πŸΎπŸ₯‚

    Liked by 2 people

    1. anne leueen says:

      Thanks Susie. I was slow to approve your comment as I was on a video chat with my daughter and grandkids.

      Like

      1. You have another comment from me 😊

        Liked by 1 person

  40. dprastka says:

    Oh my goodness, I had no idea and YES!! It’s a life saver and my cousin had to have one too! No one would ever know, and what an AMAZING story of success and all that you have been able to experience!! Happy Birthday to the most genuine, kind, strong and best of all inspiring woman!! β€οΈπŸŽ‚πŸ’ Here’s to many, many more WONDERFUL birthdays! Love, Diana β€οΈπŸ’œπŸ’šβ€οΈ

    Liked by 2 people

    1. anne leueen says:

      Thank you Diana for this wonderful comment. I am slow in replying as I took the day off completely yesterday from blogging.

      Liked by 2 people

  41. No, I would have never known!
    Wish you a very happy birthday and health! Enjoy everything 🀩πŸ₯³πŸ€—πŸ’•πŸŒΈπŸ₯³ πŸŽ‚

    Liked by 2 people

    1. anne leueen says:

      Thanks RibannaπŸ˜ƒ

      Liked by 1 person

  42. Zoolon says:

    Have a happy birthday, Anne. Enjoy ~ George

    Liked by 3 people

    1. anne leueen says:

      Thank you George!πŸ˜ƒ

      Liked by 2 people

  43. Many Many happy returns of the day πŸŽ‚πŸŽ‰ great lady ,πŸ™I am so happy πŸ€—

    Liked by 2 people

    1. anne leueen says:

      Thank you!πŸ˜ƒ

      Liked by 1 person

  44. Many Many happy returns of the dayπŸŽ‚πŸŽ‰ great lady πŸ‘ŒπŸ‘Œ

    Liked by 2 people

  45. What a terrific affirmation and so many causes for celebration! Congratulations!!!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. anne leueen says:

      Thank you Robert. It’s a great day to be alive.

      Liked by 2 people

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