Self-Advocacy and Education Help Rectal Cancer Survivor Regain Quality of Life

After undergoing ostomy surgery, Bruce Levinson learned as much as possible about ostomy products and services to help bring some normalcy back to his life.

Avoiding Nutritional Deficiency After Ileostomy Surgery

Learn how Bruce advocated for himself and found an ostomy pouching system that worked.

Bruce Levinson was diagnosed with stage III rectal cancer and lived with a temporary ostomy for a year, during radiation treatment. Three years later, he shifted to a permanent ostomy. During his ostomy journey, he took it upon himself to learn as much as possible about ostomy products and how to use them, to help improve his quality of life.

“I quickly found out that every stoma is unique, and that's why there are so many different ostomy pouching systems and accessories available,” said Bruce. “You have to do research, try things, and find what works best for you.”

Ongoing ostomy support is critical

Bruce was introduced to the Hollister Secure StartSM services  program during a discussion with the company’s call center. Developed in conjunction with Wound, Ostomy and Continence (WOC) nurses, Hollister Secure StartSM services addresses the needs of people with ostomies and helps them find solutions to the challenges they face – including finding the right ostomy products, identifying product suppliers, navigating insurance, and more.

Many ostomates may experience physical and psychological difficulties without education and personalized support. Ongoing support after ostomy surgery helps patients adjust and return to a productive, satisfying life.

The importance of being your own advocate

“When I was having problems with my ostomy, I found that what worked best was taking matters into my own hands and being my own advocate,” explained Bruce. “The different ostomy product manufacturers -- including Hollister – all have fantastic call centers and online resources, and they gave me a lot of information about the different solutions that are out there.”

Bruce encourages all people with ostomies to be proactive in finding the products and services that work best for their specific needs and lifestyle. He participates regularly in social media discussion groups, subscribes to ostomy product manufacturer newsletters and services, and continually researches new products and their uses.

A light at the end of the tunnel

“It’s such a great feeling when you get to the other side and don’t experience problems anymore,” said Bruce. Recently, he went eight days without an ostomy bag change, and when he took it off it was completely sealed. “It’s unbelievable how I finally found my solution; when I was in those dark times, I never dreamed that I would get to this point, with a pouching system that works!” he exclaimed. “I hope my story encourages others and helps them realize it's possible to get to a better place.”

View our complete interview with Bruce Levinson


People who provided testimonials received compensation from Hollister Incorporated. The testimonials, statements, and opinions presented are applicable to the people depicted. These testimonials are representative of their experience, but the exact results and experience will be unique and individual to each person.