There’s good and bad news for ostomates this year. The good news is that ostomy awareness seems to be on the front page of the internet lately. The bad news is not all of the press is positive.
Take for instance the CDC’s recent anti-smoking ad campaign. Lenny Bernstein of The Washington Post wrote an article titled, “CDC Alters Anti-Smoking Ads After Complaint From Ostomy Association.” The ad implying that if smokers don’t quit, they may end up with colorectal cancer which may lead to having ostomy surgery. Here are Bernstein's statements with respect to the goal of the ads:
“The point of the ad was that smoking causes colorectal cancer.”
“The CDC's $68 million ad campaign is designed to be shocking.”
Many anti-smoking ad campaigns can be unpleasant, but this time their message caused a stir in the ostomy community. Many ostomy advocates are working tirelessly to end the stigma surrounding ostomies. Now they are collectively using their voices to take action by starting an online petition.
To clarify, the CDC did not cancel the ads. Instead they edited some of the language which was most offensive to ostomates, such as:
In the longer version of "Julia's Story," for example, a 59-year old woman no longer says of her ostomy: "And you go whenever it goes. You have no control. If it comes loose, it smells."
Also gone is her statement that "I was at home the majority of the time because I was scared it would come loose, it would smell and I didn't want be around anyone. So I was really kinda, like, stuck at home."
Patient advocate, Lois Fink had ostomy surgery in 1986 due to Crohn's disease. She stated, "You can live a normal, active, productive life. I had no life with Crohn's disease. I was chained to a bathroom." Read the full articles (April 17 & April 21) by Lenny Bernstein on The Washington Post. Based on feedback from people with ostomies, former smokers, and others, the CDC has updated the video and wrote an apology letter about the Anti-Smoking ads.