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You're Not Alone

Cid Gonzales has little problem talking about a subject most people won’t touch.

But after six years and facing down the rest of his life wearing an ostomy bag, the last thing he wants to do is let it hinder his life or the lives of others in situations similar to his.

“My philosophy is that I can still walk upright and I’m not dying,” Cid said. “You can make as normal a life out of this as you want.”

Cid is one of the original members of a new support group at Parkview Medical Center aimed at helping patients live with an ostomy prosthetic device on a temporary basis, or in Cid’s case, a permanent one.

At an early age, Cid was diagnosed with Familial Adenomatous Polyposis, a genetic disorder that is characterized by the growth of polyps in the large intestine and rectum.

The condition exposed Cid to excruciating treatments as a boy.

“The first treatment was what they called a full grating, where they came in and burned them off,” Cid said, adding that such treatments are not common practice anymore and ended for him about the age of 13. They also allowed him to avoid an ostomy bag.

Still, Cid was introduced to the device and its life-changing aspects through his father’s struggles with the disease.

Being genetic, it also meant the possibility that Cid’s own children would develop the condition.

At 14, Cid’s youngest son became severely ill and diagnostic tests showed that he had “full blown” FAP. The condition and treatments required the boy to wear an ostomy bag for about eight months as he recovered. But doctors were able to keep it from becoming a permanent condition for him.Cid Gonzales

Cid said his son’s condition and recovery would eventually save his life.

“I knew I had opened Pandora’s Box by not going to the doctor for all of those years and my son said ‘Dad, if you don’t go see a doctor, I’m going to stop seeing mine,” Cid said.

The visit and its timing was crucial. Cid’s condition had progressed to such a stage that surgery was necessary. Following the procedure, Cid said, the doctor gave him startling news.

“The doc comes in and says ‘You’re a very lucky man. If you hadn’t had the surgery you would have had one or two years left in the tank.’”

Now Cid approaches his life with positivity, in spite of the need for a permanent ostomy. He goes out with family, camps, fishes and collects cowboy boots. He still works full time and commits to helping others.

Before the Parkview Ostomy Support Group formed, Cid worked with kids who were struggling with ostomy devices.

Now he uses the Parkview group as an opportunity to help others know they’re not alone. He said he tried to make people feel comfortable talking about a sensitive subject, adding that reading about how to manage the device doesn’t replace the technical and emotional left that comes from just talking with other people who have gone through the same thing.

“I think they will listen more to someone who has one,” Cid said. “People need to know they’re not the only ones.”

If you or someone you know is impacted by ostomy or are the caretaker of a person with an ostomy, we welcome you to come and interact with others in our Parkview Ostomy Support Group. You are not alone.

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400 West 16th Street, Pueblo, CO 81003