CHARLOTTE, N.C., June 9, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Joanna Burgess, RN, CWOCN of Apex, NC, was honored today as this year's  Great Comebacks® National Award recipient at a ceremony held at the Wound, Ostomy and Continence Nurses (WOCN®) Society™ 44th Annual Conference in Charlotte, NC.  The Great Comebacks® Program, now in its 27th year, annually honors outstanding individuals who inspire others to live life to the fullest after ostomy surgery.

Burgess' ostomy journey of 45 years began when she was diagnosed with a rare type of bladder cancer at only three years old. Urostomy surgery and radiation therapy saved her life, but led to a lifetime of complications.  The strong cobalt radiation affected the growth of her bones, and for much of her life she has had difficulty walking.  Thirty years after her urostomy surgery, she also chose to have a colostomy to end years of recurring pain due to radiation-induced colitis. 

Declared "disabled" from work, Burgess nevertheless pursued her passion: becoming a nurse, initially specializing in pediatrics, and travelling on mission trips around the world.  Based on her personal experiences, she developed a special interest in supporting patients with an ostomy and, in 2008, became a wound, ostomy and continence nurse. Burgess is currently working to establish an outpatient ostomy clinic at her hospital, to make it possible for more patients to work with a specialty-care nurse through all stages of their follow-up care after surgery.

"Through all of Joanna's medical challenges, her positive attitude and desire to help others kept her going.  Great Comebacks is proud to recognize Joanna for everything she has done, as a patient and as a nurse, to build greater awareness and educate others about living life with an ostomy," said Rolf Benirschke, founder and chairman, Great Comebacks® Program.

Each year, the Great Comebacks® Program recognizes people who have faced challenges associated with intestinal and bowel diseases and are now leading active, productive lives. Four regional award recipients are selected by the Great Comebacks® Advisory Committee, and a national award winner is chosen from among these finalists. In addition to Joanna Burgess, the regional awardees for 2011 are Randy Henniger, Folsom, CA; Karen Lewis, Brighton, MI; and Jenn Stahl, Perryville, MD.

Great Comebacks® is sponsored by ConvaTec, a world-leading developer and marketer of innovative medical technologies for community and hospital care, in partnership with the Crohn's & Colitis Foundation (CCFA), the United Ostomy Associations of America, Inc. (UOAA), the Wound, Ostomy and Continence Nurses (WOCN®) Society™ and the American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons (ASCRS).

"When Joanna had urostomy surgery more than 40 years ago her family had trouble finding information about ostomy surgery.  Her life's goal of making sure that patients have the support and resources they need is one that ConvaTec has long shared, as a leader in providing innovative products and services in ostomy care," said Brad Barton, president, ConvaTec, U.S.

More information about all of the Great Comebacks® Award recipients is available at www.GreatComebacks.com.

About the Great Comebacks® Program
Now in its third decade, the Great Comebacks® Program raises awareness of quality of life issues for people with Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, colorectal cancer and other diseases that can lead to ostomy surgery. The mission of Great Comebacks® is to provide information and inspiration to people facing the emotional and physical challenges of living with serious intestinal diseases and ostomy surgery. The program also aims to remove the stigma surrounding ostomy surgery and to educate patients, their families and friends, and the general public that ostomy surgery can be a second chance to fulfill dreams, and lead a full and productive life with joy and passion. For more information, please visit www.GreatComebacks.com.

About Ostomy Surgery

An ostomy is an artificial opening in the abdomen to the intestines or urinary system to allow for the elimination of bodily wastes. It is estimated that more than 100,000 ostomy surgeries are performed in the U.S. each year, and more than 700,000 Americans of all ages are currently living with an ostomy. An ostomy procedure is essential to many patients affected by colorectal cancer, bladder cancer, Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, birth defects, and other intestinal or urinary medical conditions. 

About ConvaTec
ConvaTec is a leading developer and marketer of innovative medical technologies that have helped improve the lives of millions of people worldwide. With four key focus areas – Ostomy Care, Wound Therapeutics, Continence and Critical Care, and Infusion Devices – ConvaTec products support health care professionals from the hospital to the community health setting. For more information, please visit www.ConvaTec.com.

Great Comebacks and the Great Comebacks Logo are registered trademarks of ConvaTec Inc.

© 2012 ConvaTec Inc.                                                                                  

SOURCE ConvaTec



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