BOARDMAN, Ohio (WKBN) – Minnesota native Brenda Elsagher visited the Valley on Tuesday, bringing laughs and her story to the Youngstown Ostomy Support Group at St. Elizabeth Health Center’s Boardman campus.
“When most people were worried about their 3 minutes of comedy, I was worried about pooping on the audience, so I had a different perspective on how this was going to go,” Elsagher said.
That might seem like an odd thing to worry about, but Elsagher deals with ostomy, which is a surgically created opening connecting an internal organ to the surface of the body to create a new way for waste to leave the body.
“An Ostomy is life-enhancing, not the end of your life. It is a beginning of a new life for you. It is a second chance of life for most of us,” Elsagher said.
That is something that many begin to see when they go to the Youngstown Ostomy Support Group. The group fluctuates in size, but a normal meeting usually has about a dozen people attend on a monthly basis.
“When they come to the meeting, they feel they are not alone. It just provides them a chance to learn from someone besides myself, who does not have an ostomy, and allows them to learn from someone who does,” said Anna Fitzgerald.
For Elsagher, it is not just about making people laugh. It is about sending a message that she hopes everyone will listen to.
“To raise awareness for colonostomies. I want people to get themselves screened, the general public. People who have had ostomys know about that. They have been through that. But the general public still has some shyness towards it,” Elsagher said.
The Ostomy Support Group meets once a month from March through December.