This Is Why You Should Never Mess With An Ostomate

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Cancer Owl comic

© Cancer Owl

Putting up my comics sometimes takes a lot of courage. Take for instance the comic above, which involves a scenario that can be hilarious to ostomates but could be horrifying to anyone else. Don't be drinking anything if you click on the image... trust me.

But "going there", and putting out stuff that risks offending (or grossing out) some people is the exact kind of tension that Cancer Owl lives in. To do any less is cheating fellow cancer patients, cancer survivors, caretakers and ostomates out of the opportunity to experience and tell the truth about the challenges we face every day. Because the realities of cancer are offensive sometimes, and gross.

I received this humbling message:

Hi, I am a 23 year old redditor with cancer. I just wanted to say that nothing else I've read or seen has resonated with me on the issue of cancer like your comics have. It's tough to put into words how this whole thing makes me feel sometimes, but when I read through your comics I find myself saying, "oh yeah, that's EXACTLY what that's like!" I love the humor you bring to the situation, it feels really good to laugh at something that people approach with such grave seriousness.

Had I censored myself at all in any of my comics, I would have cheated this wonderful person out of the chance to be comforted, to have someone out there that can say what is so difficult to voice... and in the process create a smile. But I'd be lying if I didn't say that telling the truth takes guts I don't always feel like I have.

I sometimes wonder if my next comic will be the one to turn away readers for good. But I found that the more truthful and bold I am, the more I have my fellow cancer patients and survivors thanking me for doing it. And really, they are who I do this for.

So, dear reader, I implore you: tell your story, and tell it truthfully. It's scary, but a hell of a ride. And for every one person you offend, there are ten out there who needed to hear what you had to say.

Freedom, joy, and connection always accompany truth, as well as the occasional turbulence. Go ahead. Go there.

Matthew Mewhorter

Matthew Mewhorter, cartoonist for Cancer Owl

This post originally appeared September 9, 2015 on Cancer Owl.