me+™ Community Profiles
We believe living with an ostomy should be fulfilling and complete – whether you’d like to run a 5K, or simply get back out with your friends. And we know that no two people live with an ostomy in quite the same way. The me+ Community highlights the stories of people living with an ostomy doing the things they love.
A life-long educator, Walt Brilhart has always taken care of others – as a teacher, principal, executive director and associate superintendent of Frederick County Public Schools. When he was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis at the age of 38, Walt needed someone to take care of him. His wife, Lallah, and three sons supported him through full proctocolectomy surgery, but afterwards, he felt devastated.Inspired by the stories of others living with an ostomy, Walt was encouraged to recover. Soon, he was back “on the course,” coaching students, playing the keyboard at church and golfing several times a week.
As an accomplished fashion model–and a double ostomate–she’s spent nearly 20 years camouflaging her pouches from the camera. Today, Jearlean is still awed by how far she’s come. “Sometimes I can’t believe that I’m a fashion model,” she says. “This industry is tough, with very high standards and expectations. By the grace of God, I made it. And now, it’s my mission to help others do the same.”
I am a 55-year-old woman who always took great care of herself. Never smoked or drank, stayed out of the sun and always looked much younger than my age. A few years ago, I started getting symptoms of what I thought were hemorrhoids. I’d never had a colonoscopy, always saying I was "too busy." Like a lot of people, I was just afraid. But given my symptoms, I mustered up the courage, found the time and had it done.
From a young age, I always knew that I wanted to serve my country in the Air Force. My father is a veteran, as are my uncles. I had waited my entire life to step-up and enlist, and in early 2017, my time had finally arrived. But just a week before leaving for basic training, I experienced the recurring stomach issues I had been living with since the age of 16. However, this time felt different. It became clear later that what I always thought of as just an “irritable stomach” was something more serious: IBD.