Encourage, Inspire and give HOPE
to ostomy patients


Rolf Benirschke

My own ostomy journey began almost 40 years ago when I was 24 and in the third season of my NFL career. I underwent two emergency surgeries, six days apart, for ulcerative colitis and woke up with two ostomy bags attached to my sides. I was devastated and thought my life was over.  Thanks to an incredible medical team, and the hand of the Lord, I not only survived but was able to return to resume my NFL career and play for seven more seasons!

My ostomy changed me…for the better!  Not only did it rid me of my ulcerative colitis, it also made me appreciate life differently. Since then, I’ve been dedicated to educating and encouraging ostomy patients and their families not to view their diagnosis and operation as a death sentence but to embrace it as an opportunity to become transformed. Ultimately, it is up to each patient to make the choice between remaining “bitter” or becoming “better.” I want to help them choose “better.”

As the health care system has evolved, I’ve been horrified to see how little support ostomy patients receive, because they are often released from the hospital within one day of their surgery. They might have been lucky enough to have had a visit from a WOCN (or not) but are then likely discharged into an abyss…alone…with no idea how to navigate the challenging emotional, physical, and mechanical journey that lies ahead for them.

I feel called to help fill that gap so I’m very excited to welcome you to the Grateful Ostomate, designed to encourage, inspire and give HOPE to ostomy patients. We’ll feature practical information and encouraging stories of ostomates who have chosen “better” and are now living the lives they always dreamed of. It is my desire to create a community that is passionate about supporting and inspiring each other with one goal— to ensure that every ostomate becomes a Grateful Ostomate, just like I did.

Encouraging you to choose better,

– Rolf Benirschke

Rolf Benirschke

P.S. You might be asking, “Why should I take the time to share my story? It’s nothing special.” I know from speaking to thousands of patients that EVERY story is special, and EVERY story is an encouragement to someone!

Think back to those days before your surgery—when you were frightened, alone, and wondering how you could live your life wearing a bag. Imagine the power of hearing from someone just like you who says, “I’ve been there. I know how you feel. It is hard for you to imagine right now, but your life with an ostomy can be better than anything you’ve ever dreamed of.”


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