Skip to main content

FYI: 10 fun facts about Paul Riome

He's taking "living bigger" to new heights.

You might have read about his Grandma Mabel’s ostomy surgery in 1938 or maybe you saw him on the cover of The Phoenix Magazine, but how well do you really know Paul Riome? He's been inspiring ostomates to "live bigger" ever since being diagnosed with rectal cancer in 2009. The following year Paul had ostomy surgery. “At age 59 I traded cancer for a colostomy. It was a good trade. Earlier detection with a colonoscopy may have saved my ass," he said, and now his message to everyone is: "GET SCREENED!" 

From Nepal to Mt. Everest, his climbing adventures keep getting bigger. Here are ten Fun (Yet Interesting) facts about Paul Riome's life off the mountaintop.

1. When he was 7-years-old, he hooked his brother’s mouth.

PR: He and I were pretending to fish in our back yard. I was the fisherman, he was the fish. To this day I don't know what possessed us to do that. I guess I needed to "set the hook"? So, I leaned back, snapped the rod, and two barbed hooks went through his lower lip. After a trip to the hospital, the family meeting concluded with a lifetime ban on our fishing game.

2. He has a connection with and respect for ravens.

PR: Ravens are among the smartest of all birds with a reputation for solving complicated problems and can live up to 70 years. Every March, 2-3 ravens hatch on a cliff easily visible from my cabin. I watch their growth until they learn to fly and join the adults. I’ve left stale donuts and watched ravens carry them one at a time to the trees and hide them (there is an intelligence to thinking of the future). One clever raven learned to put his beak through one donut-hole, and then grab a second one with his beak!

3. At age 8, he could've died on the freeway.

PR: On a family vacation in California, we stopped at a rest area for a picnic. My mom told me to put something in the garbage can. The can she saw was about 10 feet away. The can I saw was at the rest area on the opposite side of the freeway, across six lanes of traffic. I dodged vehicles traveling both ways, returning surprised to see the horror on her face as she realized I had innocently done exactly what she asked me to do.

4. He was the first hockey player in his hometown to wear a helmet.

PR: Fifty years ago, nobody wore a hockey helmet. But I took a severe concussion while playing, with bleeding from both ears and both nostrils and five days in the hospital. My dad bought me a helmet (made of felt and leather) and gave me a clear choice — wear the helmet or don't play hockey. With today's awareness of concussions and head injuries from hockey and football, this seemed like an obvious solution but at the time it was radical. Hockey has been hard on my body. I made a quick count of injuries over the past 57 years . . . 3 concussions requiring hospitalization, 12 broken bones, 3 shoulder separations, 2 missing teeth, 1 torn knee, and over 100 stitches; a colostomy hasn’t changed that style.

There are penalties for not listening to your body. The importance of prevention - get screened!

"There are penalties for not listening to your body. Get screened!"

5. His mom fired him as the babysitter when he was 11.

PR: My mom went out for just 15 minutes and I was to take care of my three younger siblings. One sister drank a bottle of iodine, and my other sister burned concentric rings on her barefoot as she stepped on a hot burner on our counter-top stove. My brother was okay. Apparently, a 1-out-of-3 success rate did not meet my mom's standards.

6. He rode on a palomino quarter horse.

PR: When I was 15, I joined a local 4H program and competed in gymkhana events. I even rode in the musical ride as mentored by the RCMP officers stationed in our town. In winter, I rode a palomino quarter horse bareback without a bridle. She was an amazing horse who responded to voice, hand, and leg signals.

7. He worked as a blaster drill operator.

PR: For five summers while a university student, I was an explosives expert in a nickel mine at Thompson Manitoba, 5,800 feet underground. Rough work, but I made five times the minimum wage that most college students worked for.

8. Social media is too fast for him.

PR: I’m more comfortable canoeing or trekking without cellphone or internet access. My lifetime favorite is Nepal.

Nepal, 2012: There's a feeling of elation reaching a summit.

Nepal, 2012: There's a feeling of elation reaching a summit.

9. At age 16, he completed a 26-mile marathon with zero training or preparation.

PR: I had moved from a small town to a big city, and on a whim thought it would be a fun outing. It’s been 50 years and I haven't run a marathon since.

10. His favorite quotation is...

FYI, we've gathered more fun facts about famous people with an ostomy.