By Ben Wheeler
MEET this inspiring mum-of-six who has overcome a chronic colon condition that has seen her permanently fitted with a stoma pouch as well as an aggressive breast cancer and puts her successful recovery partly down to regularly practicing yoga.
Problems started for Yulady Saluti, 38, from New Jersey, USA as a 21-year-old when doctors biopsied a tumour they had found between her rectum and vagina after she had gone to the hospital in excruciating pain caused by a cyst.
As a result of the surgery, Yulady’s cyst became infected and she had to be rushed back into surgery to drain an abscess that had formed. Yulady had to wait a further nine months to have the tumour and cyst removed which resulted in her first temporary ostomy surgery after significant damage to her vaginal and rectal walls.
Yulady has since overcome an aggressive breast cancer which she was diagnosed with in 2012 before getting the all clear the following year after a double mastectomy; her troubles did not end here though as continued issues with her colon lead to permanent ostomy surgery in 2015.
Despite all she has suffered Yulady is determined not to let her ailments get her down and is now on a mission to help others who are facing similar challenges by openly baring her pouch and breasts on social media.
“I decided to share my journey publicly so that other people could benefit, I wanted to show people that you should love your body and never take your health for granted,” she said.
“I had a tumour between my rectum and vagina that was biopsied when I was 21-years-old having originally gone to the hospital in excruciating pain due to a cyst in my rectum.
“The biopsy caused the cyst to get infected and I immediately required an additional surgery to drain an abscess that had formed.
“It was another nine months before I had another surgery to remove the tumour, which turned out to be benign, and cyst which resulted in my first temporary ostomy due to damage to my vaginal and rectal walls.
“My surgeon created what is called a J-pouch at the bottom of my colon and eventually after four years of innumerable surgeries this ostomy was reversed.”
Following complications from her original ostomy and preparing for her TWENTIETH surgery, to repair a hernia, Yulady discussed a small lump on her right breast with her that she had been unconcerned about after it had been looked at by an obstetrician-gynaecologist (OB-GYN).
“I’d had the lump for a period of time but wasn’t concerned because I had shown the same lump to my OB-GYN doctor,” she said.
“When my doctor went to repair the hernia, he decided to take a biopsy of the lump, I’ll always remember waking up from that anaesthesia on 9 May 2012, my husband Gerard was holding my hand and he told me I had cancer.
“My cancer was very aggressive, so I didn’t even have any treatment between my diagnosis and double mastectomy which was performed less than two weeks later.
“When I found out that was the course of action I’d have to take I was shocked but hopeful, we had been through so much with my health already it seemed completely unfair and quite unreal and after the surgery I just felt fearful, anxious and angry.
“I was given the all clear in February 2013 when I completed my last radiation treatment, despite my body being brutalised by the cancer, chemo and radiation, my spirit never wavered.”
Following her recovery from breast cancer Yulady continued to be beset by problems with her colon, resulting in permanent ostomy surgery in February 2015.
“Unfortunately, I was destined to have additional colon problems which resulted in my permanent ostomy,” she said.
“The decision to have permanent surgery was a difficult one, all of the surgeries took a terrible toll on my body.
“The nerves that affect the descending colon had been severed so many times that it caused me to have chronic constipation and the only real solution was a permanent colostomy.
“It was tough to wrap my head around but thought the relief it would bring would all be worth it.
“However, I experienced problem immediately after and required two additional surgeries. I have been hospitalised 20 times since then from blockages and other ostomy related issues and was still in constant pain.
Finally, Yulady spoke about how she has managed to overcome all these problems, primarily thanks to a supportive family and her love of yoga.
“Without the support of my husband I would not have pulled through it all, he has never left my side and never will,” she said.
“He tells me I am the most beautiful woman in the world and I think he truly believes it, he would tell you that he doesn’t see all my scars and doesn’t care that I have no nipples or poop in a bag!
“I originally found yoga when I was in a deep dark place about nine years ago and have since become a certified instructor.
“It is more than just poses, it is the union of mind, body and spirit and I’m absolutely certain it has been an invaluable asset in my recovery.”