Life with an Ileostomy: Celebrating 6 Years!

By Leah Sannar

Ahh, don’t you just love exploring the lighter side of life with an ostomy? Anyway – guess what? This month marks my 6th “Ostoversary.” In case you’re new to this fabulous term, which I know you are because I just made it up, it’s a combo – Ostomy/Anniversary. This is a big deal you guys! I can’t believe time goes by so quickly and that I’m already celebrating 6 years! And I do use the term “celebrating” on purpose, because that’s exactly what I’m doing. I’m celebrating. Sure, living with an Ileostomy has had its challenges. And they are definitely challenging; I don’t mean to downplay them. But when you put those trials next to the ones I faced with active Crohn’s Disease – they feel mild, even easy. Maybe not in the moment… but they are 100% more desirable to me, than going back to life without an Ostomy. (Hear more about how I ended up with an Ileostomy here.)

People are always so fascinated with me when they find out about my Ileostomy. I always get this blank stare that says, “Oh man, I have so many questions… I really want to ask, but I don’t want to offend [...] continue the story

Reconstruction: Not for the Faint of Heart

By Kristen Knott

Written April 3, 2014

It was 13 days ago that I underwent surgery again, a left prophylactic mastectomy and the beginning of bi-lateral reconstruction surgery. It has been a very long two weeks filled with pain, discomfort, and a lot of focused breathing and stillness.

The day before my surgery I felt like the old me, running around getting last minute errands done. Trying to organize the house and my work in a way that would ensure order without my involvement over the coming weeks. You know – doing those jobs you never want to do, filing the mail, cleaning out the crisper, organizing the house clutter – thankless jobs.

On top of the Cinderella chores I had an appointment at Juravinski with my oncologist. This appointment was my three-month check in on my response to Tamoxifen. When my Dad and I walked into Juravinski that morning I didn’t feel like a patient anymore. I felt different.  What I did feel though was dread deep in the pit of my belly. I knew the following day I was going back into patient mode. My strength and health that I had fought so hard to get back was well on the way, and now I was [...] continue the story

Stag Beetle

By Ptolemy Elrington

COUNTRY: United Kingdom

DISEASE: Psoriasis

FORMAT: Mixed Media Sculpture


This beetle is heading somewhere. It has purpose and strength and is preparing to fly. We often feel small under the eyes of others, and with a visible and constantly uncomfortable affliction this can cause us to feel reduced to the status of an insect. But everything has a place, and therefore everybody has validity which we must strive to recognize, and must strive to apply to how we view ourselves and others. This patient’s moment of meaning centers on hope, progression and potential.


“For over 17 years Psoriasis had become the essence of me, dominating family life. I was isolated, fearful and self-loathing, overwhelmed by long periods of hospitalization and endless clinical appointments. Although my Psoriasis is not cured, since 2005 it has become manageable. Psoriasis reminds me of its presence at the least convenient times. It no longer holds me back but propels me on to make my voice heard in improving the services available to other sufferers.”

About Perspectives

‘Perspectives – Art, Inflammation and Me’ is an initiative that brings together more than 200 artists with patients in more than 40 countries. Together, they have created a series of paintings, [...] continue the story

Wild Cards

By Fong Ku

Medium used: Silkscreen print Artist Biography Fong Ku is in her second year of a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree at the Alberta College of Art and Design. With a previous degree in international development she is drawn to printmaking’s historical role in social and political movements, its emphasis on process and the inter-disciplinary combination of drawing, painting, and in the case of plate preparation, sculpture. Creating a successful print requires the artist to constantly investigate both sides and many layers of an idea, resulting in a varied and meditative practice of intentional mark making in one direction to expose the reflection of the artist’s vision. Using the artist’s words, summarize the artwork and how they feel it reflects the patient’s moment of meaning Printmaking’s capacity for producing multiples complements education and awareness initiatives. This silkscreen print, the third in an edition of three, affirms the spirit of cross-sector collaboration, and reminds us of our interconnectedness. Deb, an avid runner, introduced her health condition as the cards she was dealt. Despite severe hip joint degeneration, she insisted on being carried to her treadmill instead of the wheelchair. Card playing’s mix of fate, chance and risk has a long history. This artwork conveys [...] continue the story


By Terese Mullin

Medium used: Acrylic on canvas

Artist Biography

Terese Mullin is in her second year of study at the Alberta College of Art and Design (ACAD) after having worked as an artist for ten years. She was awarded an entrance scholarship from ACAD, as well as receiving an award for earning a high GPA in her first year. Terese’s strongest artistic interest is in painting, with recent work exploring the human figure and nature, often combining and intertwining the two. She enjoys abstracting what is seen in the physical world, as well as creating non-representational work.

Using the artist’s words, summarize the artwork and how they feel it reflects the patient’s moment of meaning

In speaking with Deborah, who suffers from two immune-mediated inflammatory diseases (IMIDs), I learned that one of the worst aspects of having these diseases was loss of mobility. Deborah was a runner before the diagnosis, and could not fathom losing that integral part of her life. Adamant that she was going to “define” her diseases, instead of letting the diseases define her, she forced herself out of her wheelchair and relearned how to run, adapting her stride, speed and type of run. Deborah has a strong spirit and is [...] continue the story


By Pili Farrulla

COUNTRY: Puerto Rico

DISEASE: Crohn’s Disease, Psoriasis & Rheumatoid Arthritis

FORMAT: Painting


The painting is triptych or three paintings in one. The first painting shows the battle with joint pain that Rheumatoid Arthritis patients face. The second painting depicts Crohn’s Disease and Psoriasis – conditions that need heart and courage to fight. The third painting represents all three conditions. The transparent or gray person represents the emptiness and confusion felt when a patient is diagnosed. The middle person shows how as years pass, patients improve physically and mentally. All have heads held high, signalling their determination in overcoming obstacles.

The full-colored person shows an empowered and healthier patient. The three stripes represent each disease. Throughout the paintings, the color gray depicts the pain and emptiness in their lives.


Patient with Rheumatoid Arthritis: “At the moment of my diagnosis I felt like an outcast. I’m a true warrior who has been fighting an uphill battle that most of you can’t imagine. Now I feel very positive and I see the light at every step of my disease.”

Patient with Crohn’s Disease: “During this long journey of my disease I have found that my family’s and my physician’s amazing support has made it possible [...] continue the story


By Konstantinos Chatzopoulos


DISEASE: Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis

FORMAT: Graphic Design Poster


The artwork depicts two children’s hands and in the background a collage of paintings created by children who suffer from this disease. The hands have a double meaning. At first, they are presented as a part of the body affected by Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis, but also as a symbol of creativity, strength and determination. The message I want to pass on with this project is a message of optimism, also emitted by the children themselves through colorful paintings.


Statements from the children:

“My mother says that what does not kill you makes you stronger…” “I realize every day that my disease has so many different faces…” “The only thing I want is to be able to run and play with my friends…” “I cherish Summer Camp because I can do so many things there, I can be with friends who feel the same, I can ride a bicycle, swim, play. And I do not need to explain to them WHY it hurts so much sometimes, they simply understand because they suffer too…”

About Perspectives

‘Perspectives – Art, Inflammation and Me’ is an initiative that brings together more than 200 artists with patients in more than 40 [...] continue the story


By Chloe Diana Saunders

Medium used: Acrylic on canvas & embroidery thread

Artist Biography

I am a Calgary based artist and third year painting major at the Alberta College of Art and Design. Media experimentation is a large part of my practice, however I work primarily in the fields of painting and drawing. I am interested in the qualities of form, color and composition in an abstract painting process. I believe that painting and drawing create a strong foundation in my practice from which I am able to explore ideas of material use, visual aesthetics and emotional responses in a complexity of directions.

Using the artist’s words, summarize the artwork and how they feel it reflects the patient’s moment of meaning

Getting to know Jennifer and her experience with her immune-mediated inflammatory disease (IMID) gave me insight into the individuality of each case. The piece that I created is a reflection of how an individual can choose to react in the face of adversity. This piece depicts a choice to continue striving for ones full potential, despite the inherent challenges of living with an IMID.

Using the artist’s words, describe how they felt about this experience

I thought that this experience was a really interesting collaboration of [...] continue the story


By Yavora Petova

COUNTRY: Bulgaria

DISEASE: Crohn’s Disease

FORMAT: Drawing/Illustration


Figures included represent single and accompanied life experiences compared to the patient’s description.


Patient, 26 years old: “I wanted to become a dancer, but I gave up my dream when I was 13 years old and was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease. My inner world was changing from a volcano of emotions to a black hole. I went through desperation, depression, stress, panic, strict diets and drastic change in my appearance, forced isolation and constant mimicry. Earlier I was living through my feelings, now through the mind.”

About Perspectives

‘Perspectives – Art, Inflammation and Me’ is an initiative that brings together more than 200 artists with patients in more than 40 countries. Together, they have created a series of paintings, sculptures, photos and other artistic expressions that vividly depict — and help others understand — the impact of immune-mediated inflammatory diseases (IMIDs). Inspired by patients’ stories, independent artists and students from a number of art universities created each piece to help more people better understand the burdens associated with some of these chronic and debilitating conditions. In addition to independent artists from all parts of the world, students from more than 15 universities coordinated by the [...] continue the story

I Will Manage Whatever Happens

By Sally Mayne

Medium used: Etching

Artist Biography

Sally Mayne is a Print Media major at the Alberta College of Art & Design. Her current practice focuses on the exploration of understanding personal identity in relation to one’s search for belonging through ancestry, communal landscape and memory. Her work takes shape through an array of mediums, including printmaking, film, audio, installation, and photography. Within this search, her work focuses on both the duality and dichotomy between the past and present, the individual and the shared, and how we choose to navigate those qualities within ourselves.

Using the artist’s words, summarize the artwork and how they feel it reflects the patient’s moment of meaning

In moments where a disease compromises feelings of comfort and stability, the words “I will manage whatever happens”, arise. This image reflects the person’s ability to ground herself by way of finding inner strength through this focused mantra of self-empowerment. The image’s glowing circle and tree-like form symbolize the core of the person’s being; a light that surpasses ailment and reminds her of her complexities and what she is capable of. The wrapping, tumbling texture of the tree speaks to a gathering of love for ones self, despite the identity that the [...] continue the story