Great Comebacks National Awards Event: Charlotte, NC

June 18, 2012

Got some of the photos of the event from Andrea and wanted to share them!

Having too much fun at the Great Comebacks award dinner at the WOCN national conference in Charlotte.

June 11, 2012: Charlotte, NC

WOCN National Conference

On my way to the NASCAR Hall of Fame for a dinner event hosted by Convatec

Second day of the WOCN conference and I gave two talks today at the Convatec booth, sharing my story and thanking the WOCNs for what they do for the ostomy community. Dinner tonight at the NASCAR Hall of Fame museum sponsored by Convatec with presentations of innovations in wound care, fecal management systems and ostomy care. Last day tomorrow with one talk at the Convatec booth. Then sightseeing on Wednesday before we fly home on Thursday.

Busy, busy!


June 10, 2012: Enjoyed sharing my story at the Convatec booth at the WOCN national conference exhibition. Several of the Sacramento WOCNs stopped  by to say HI and told Rolf they appreciate my offer to speak at the ostomy education day on Oct 6th at Sutter Hospital in Sacramento. My talk went a little long, about 25 minutes, got to cut it back to 15 minutes for tomorrow’s talk. Joanna, Karen and Jenn, Rolf and I did a meet and greet with a group of WOCNs. More tomorrow…

Convatec has the premier spot and the largest booth at the conference. Pretty cool being associated with them!

June 9, 2012:;_ylt=A2KJ3Cb4lNRPzyoA1xXQtDMD

Joanna Burgess was selected as this year’s Great Comebacks National Award winner and she deserves it!

Joanna won the national award and she deserves it! What a joyous person who considers her life “blessed” with the many challenges she has faced and overcome. Her entire family was in attendance and it was an honor to be in the running with Joanna for this award. Karen, Jen, Joanna and I and our families are connected now is a very special way. The video that Scott produced was awesome. I can’t wait to get a copy and upload it to YouTube.

Congrats, Joanna!


Great Comebacks® Recognizes Joanna Burgess, RN, As National Award Recipient

Burgess overcame bladder cancer and two ostomy surgeries to become a WOC nurse

PR NewswirePress Release: ConvaTec – 19 hours ago

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

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

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

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

© 2012 ConvaTec Inc.

Charlotte, NC: June 8, 2012

We just got back to the Westin Hotel in Charlotte, NC after a wonderful evening and dinner with the other Great Comeback regional award winners this year. Rolf and the folks from Convatec are the perfect hosts. I am so proud to share this great fun with Trish and Peggy and Earl and to share them with these other great folks. Peggy said that they all seem “special”, having gone through really tough times and come out the other side.

We arrived last night into Charlotte and were picked up and driven to the hotel in a big black SUV. We were met by Andrea, the delightful and hard working public relations person working for Convatec. We had a late dinner at the hotel and went to bed.

Slept in late (Eastern Time), then walked around downtown Charlotte and got lunch.  Earl and I went to the hotel gym for a workout and then I went for a swim while Peggy and Earl and Tricia relaxed around the pool and enjoyed the pleasant afternoon breeze.

Dinner was delicious with an introduction to tomorrow nights event by Rolf, the founder of Great Comebacks and thanks to all of us from Convatec senior management. Got to meet Joanna’s husband, Ross. Charlie’s wife, who nursed him through 7 years of bowel disease, Punnie from Convatec who got me the Des Moine speaking engagement. Karen and her Mom and husband and Jan and her husband. The other regional winners.

As Rolf said, we are all winners, regardless of tomorrow night’s announcement.

Peggy and Earl in Charlotte, NC for the Great Comebacks National award

Trish and Randy in Charlotte, NC for Great Comebacks National Award ceremony

2 thoughts on “Great Comebacks National Awards Event: Charlotte, NC

  1. Looks like you are enjoying your time in Charlotte. What a great event and I’m sure you’ve meet some new friends to stay in contact with.

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