Friday, March 29, 2013

Financial Post on Colon Cancer

Today, the Financial Post used it's massive media position
to bring awareness to Colon Cancer.

Darryl Sittler
ex-NHL Toronto Maple Leaf hockey player
talks about a positive future after his wife's lost battle with Colon Cancer. 
Paul Riome
talks of trading Colon Cancer for a Colostomy
and his life-changing journey back to a normal life.

Read the entire Health Supplement HERE. The Sittler and Riome articles are on page 6.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Nepal 2012 So Wealthy

On several occasions in Nepal, I heard "you people are so wealthy". My first instinct was to deny it, as none of our team would consider themself wealthy. But of course our thinking was based on our standards, and not on Nepalese standards.  
We are so wealthy, by Nepalese standards.

Many times I saw Nepalese porters, struggling with loads up to 100 Kgs (220 pounds), wearing flip-flops or cheap canvas runners, and earning less for their day than the minimum hourly wage in our country. The average annual income in Nepal is about $450 ... our boots cost more than that!   We are so wealthy.

Milan and Anil Kulung portered with us to Island Peak Base camp.  The temperature was -15 C (5F), and I wore a down coat over a down jacket. Anil arrived with no hat, thin T-shirts, and a nylon windbreaker jacket.
I asked him several times, in both English and Nepalese, but he insisted 'no cold ... no cold'.  
But he must have been cold, so we lent him a jacket, and I gave him a toque. That night, Anil brought the toque back to me. Initially I thought there was confusion about me giving him the toque or loaning him the toque. With Ganesh interpreting, it became clear that Anil could not accept a gift of such large value. I tried to convince him that I wanted him to have the toque. "You must be cold" and "I have two toques here, and I am happy to give you one" and "We need your help to climb Island Peak, and we want you to be healthy" and "I would be honored if you would keep this toque".
He just shook his head and declined. I finally said, "No worries, I have another six toques at home". Ganesh and Anil exchanged words in Nepalese, then Anil took the toque. Ganesh then turned to me and said
"You people are so wealthy - you have one head, but you own many toques".
I was taken aback, then humbled by these simple, yet profound words. To Anil, the toque respresented a full day's wages, and I had many toques.   We are so wealthy.

Many 'foreign guests' fulfill their bucket-list-goal of reaching Everest Base Camp  or climbing Everest or another mountain nearby.  Once the goal is achieved, some people 'check the item off their list', and want an instant exit back to their home. The cost of a helicopter flight is about $15,000 ... a lifetime of income for the average Nepalese!    We are so wealthy!

Of course none of our team took a helicopter out. We chose to enjoy the moment, stay immersed in the adventure, and extend the experience by walking two days back to Lukla.
Our guides were reluctant to talk about it, but did quietly acknowledge that they quickly distinguish between the 'check-list guests' and those guests who are genuinely in Nepal for the rich experiences with the people and the country of Nepal.

What is a Toque?
Apparently this is a Canadian word.  Urban Dictionary says a 
toque is ...
a knitted hat that one would wear during the winter - the ultimate in high Canadian fashion.

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Thursday, March 21, 2013

HockeyGear: Stomaplex Freedom-Guard GTX

In 2009, I traded Rectal Cancer for a Resection and Permanent Colostomy, and 4 months later I was back playing hockey.  

I was naturally concerned about herniating, 
and about stoma-damage by rubbing or impacts.

Hockey is a rough game.  The best hockey players are big, strong, fast, aggressive, and mean.  I only have the ‘fast’, and some players are double my weight.

I have always worn the best protective equipment to reduce injuries, and continually experiment with new equipment ... always looking for improvements.  

Normal hockey gear is easy to find.  Finding specialty gear to protect my colostomy and stoma is more challenging. 
      I need  ...
  •  protection from rubbing on my stoma 
  •  protection from impacts (pucks, sticks, and hits)
  •  support to avoid herniating
  •  flexibility of movement
  •  no stresses on flange adhesive, which could cause flange-failure

After experimenting with 4 different protective guards, I thought I had the best available.  But Bob Zurowski of Stomaplex has made a quantum leap with the new Freedom-Guard GTX.  The GTX's outer shield is strong enough to take hockey impacts, but can be bent to fit the abdominal contour. The belt is comfortable on my skin, and gives good hernia protection without restricting flexibility or mobility.  The shape and padding holds the GTX in place without slipping, while the 'bubble' protects my stoma.  

LOW PROFILE differentiates the new GTX  

My hockey-pants-belt fits over the top of the GTX, and stays snugly above the 'bubble'.  This superior design  keeps the GTX in place, with no shifting or sliding, even with the hockey pants moving as I stretch, bend, and rotate.  The low-profiled GTX has virtually no bulge, so is easier to hide than other protective guards ... not so important with hockey pants, but for other sports I could see GTX-wearers being very comfortable with it's low-profile appearance.

With the GTX, I feel confident it will stay securely in place 
I feel supported for hernia protection
And I know I am safe from impacts

Now the real game-day testimonials. It has been said that I play bigger than my size ("he’s only 150 pounds, but plays like he’s 180"). I think the comment is intended to be complimentary, but that style is hard on my body.  I made a quick count of injuries during 57 years of hockey ... 3 concussions requiring hospitalization, 12 broken bones, 3 shoulder separations, 2 missing teeth, and 1 torn knee.  A colostomy hasn’t changed that style. 

I have taken hits, crashed into the boards, fallen on the ice, blocked shots, and been speared with sticks ... all while sporting a colostomy.  

Sometimes I hurt.  But my stoma has never been hurt. 

It is a real testament to the Stomaplex GTX that I can continue to play that style with warranted confidence.

The GTX performs as a superior product under the extreme conditions of hockey.  For myself (and others), I can see many more sporting activities for the GTX ... whenever we need protection from impacts or rubbing or hernias. 

I receive no financial benefit for sharing this experience, testimonial and product review.
You can learn more about the Freedom-Guard GTX at Stomaplex  



Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Nepal 2012 Where's Waldo? - Where's Hogus?

Children & parents love to find Waldo
Child-Ostomates, friends of ostomates, & parents
love to find Hogus

Hogus was sometimes hiding, but he was with us, every step of the way, on our Nepal adventure.
Can you find Hogus in every picture?

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<<Follow this story from the beginning

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Nepal 2012 Think Before Complaining

Trip Leader Tami of TwoFeetOneWorld delivered a thoughtful message to our team,
but the message could also be appropriate for many people at home.

"This is not a 5-star tour. This is a rustic, challenging, mountain experience in one of the poorest countries in the world. Talk if you have an injury or an altitude-induced issue. But I don't want to hear if you are bored with the food. I don't want the negativity that brews when downers in the group start to impact the good nature of the group. Negativity is like CANCER to a group. Remember that some of us have experienced real CANCER, and petty complaints don't have any place in the grand scheme of life.

If you are about to lodge a complaint, FIRST look around you. Do you see the child standing there in bare feet in the snow? Do you notice that the door shielding the three dirty faced children is made of cloth not wood? Did you notice the porter carrying a heavy load was wearing flip-flops on his feet? Do you know the average life expectancy in the Khumbu Valley is 45?

After realistically considering your surroundings and appreciating that we as Canadians have the freedom to travel, can buy any food we want, drive comfortable vehicles on paved roads, live in warm houses with hot and cold running water, and have the best health-care system in the world ... ONLY THEN ... consider if your complaint is justified."

Tami has delivered this message on each of 7 trips to Nepal. No one has yet lodged a complaint.

The message is simple and powerful
in the rugged and challenging environment of Nepal.
The message is also a humble reminder for many of us at home.

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Friday, March 1, 2013

Nepal 2012 Gudel, Nepal School Fund

I write this on behalf of the 400 children who attend school in the small village of Gudel, Nepal. Our aim is to help this community achieve a much-needed new school facility and to give all the children in that village the opportunity of a better life through education.  We have so much ... they have so little ... we can help.

We were part of a trekking group that visited Gudel in October, 2012.
A small donation from us sparked the beginning of construction of a much-needed new school room and improvement to their playground facility. This money was received with such gratitude that we were humbled and overwhelmed. Seeing the need, and knowing the ability of people in our country to help in addressing that need, has motivated me to encourage you to contribute to this effort.

Our group is not a formal charity. We cannot offer tax donation receipts. What we can offer is the assurance that 100% of the money raised will go to support the construction of Gudel School. There will be no administration costs nor deductions from the money raised. The only purpose of the money is to ensure the new school will be completed.  Our commitment to you as a participant is that all funds raised will be used for that purpose.

Nepal and it's people are unforgettable - whether you are someone who has been fortunate enough to travel there, or whether you have followed with interest another’s travel experience. This is a practical way that you can help the most humble, respectful, and caring of people help themselves and their futures.

You can donate online at
Mail Cheques to
Gudel Nepal School Fund
151 - 615 Stensrud Road
Saskatoon, SK S7W-0A2

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