Looking to dispel stigma around a medical procedure, Galt City Council issued a proclamation recognizing Ostomy Awareness Day, which this year is on Oct. 1. The Herald spoke with the Galt resident who brought the idea forward.
Observed on the first Saturday of October, Ostomy Awareness Day is intended to bring attention to ostomy surgery, which allows bodily waste to be rerouted through an opening in the abdomen into an external pouch. There are multiple reasons for a person to receive an ostomy, such as injury, cancer or irritable-bowel syndrome.
The proclamation called the procedure a “lifesaving and life-restoring surgery” but noted ostomy patients can deal with stigma and embarrassment for receiving one.
The proclamation further “calls upon all residents of Galt and California to unite on this day in a showing of support to shine a positive light on this lifesaving surgery.”
Dan Shockley, who advocated for the proclamation, began working to raise awareness for the procedure after receiving an ostomy himself 10 years ago. He had been diagnosed with a hereditary colon cancer syndrome. As a preventive measure, he had a part of his intestines removed and now uses an ostomy pouch.
“I wanted to help silence the stigma of individuals who have an ostomy to let them know that we can go on with our life and there’s nothing to be embarrassed about, nothing to be ashamed of,” Shockley told the Herald.
Shockley relocated to Galt from Elk Grove one and a half years ago. Before moving to California for treatment, he lived in Hawaii, where he got proclamations from the mayor of Honolulu and the governor of Hawaii. He said he has recently secured a proclamation from the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors.
Shockley spoke about his outlook on life and noted he has redefined the acronym for his diagnosis, AFAP, as a personal motto: “Always forge ahead with a purpose.”
Shockley works with national nonprofit United Ostomy Associations of America (UOAA). He said those looking to lend support can visit the UOAA website, ostomy.org, and learn about virtual and in-person participation in the Run for Resilience 5K. The nonprofit also accepts donations.