Aaron Wolkoff

Ostomy Toronto member, patient and Olympic torch bearer!


Age: 69

Type of Ostomy: Ileostomy

Years with Ostomy: 6 Years

About Aaron

Are you an Ostomy Toronto Trained Visitor?

Yes, I completed the Ostomy Toronto training. I have been in contact with many people who have either had surgery or were going to have surgery.

How active are you, living with an ostomy?

In March 2012, I retired from Waters Canada where I was President for the past 25 years. Waters Canada is a worldwide company that develops and manufactures analytical laboratory instrumentation. In this position, I travelled extensively to attend meetings and trade shows. After surgery, I continued my work as normal and did not let my Ileostomy interfere. I have now retired to enjoy life to the fullest including my grandchildren, going to the gym every morning. Since my surgery, we (my wife and I) have continued our travel visiting places like China and Russia.

How have Ostomy Toronto’s members or services assisted you to manage your ostomy?

When I first had this surgery, I received a lot of help from various sources. One of these recommended Ostomy Toronto meetings. I also benefited from personal help from one of the members who assisted me by phone. I believe the meetings were good for my morale in at least two ways: I saw that people at the meetings looked and behaved normally – you could not tell they had an ostomy; and even more importantly, the content of the meetings and conversations at the meetings not only informed me of different solutions for various problems that I had, but also made me feel more comfortable in that I was not the only one with these issues and that the problems could be resolved.

What advice would you give someone who is about to have, has just had, or is struggling with an ostomy? What advice would give their family/caregivers?

I would make sure to take advantage of any help that is available – Toronto Ostomy meetings and newsletters, any caregivers that offer help, the ET’s (if available) at the hospital where the surgery took place and ET’s in the commercial world (e.g. where supplies are purchased). Family members and caregivers should also provide encouragement to take advantage of all of these help sources above. I always like to say that it (the ostomy) is better than the alternative. My wife Sally was the one who pushed me to go to meetings, helped my recovery and still helps out from a morale point of view and any other help that is needed. In fact, my whole family and (former) co-workers at Waters have been very supportive. When I saw the advertising to apply to carry the Olympic Torch, I saw that as a personal milestone. While it was only about 300 meters, I took it as a challenge – that I could have an ostomy and then still run and carry the torch. Of course I could – and I turned it into a personal challenge. It’s hard to believe that the Olympic Torch Relay was almost 4 years ago. I keep the Torch displayed where visitors to our home can see and hold it.