Meet our Spokespeople
Meet Angie Clark, The Canadian Continence Foundation’s spokesperson. Her story and why she decided to “speak-out”.
Hello. I am a 63-year-old woman, retired from paid work – but not from living life fully. What is important to me? My marriage, my friendships and being healthy so I can enjoy gardening, exercise, acting and being involved in my community. My problem – stress incontinence.
Over my adult years, I had recurring bouts of yeast infections and cystitis, but rarely a “leak” problem. Then in my 50’s and post menopausal, that began to occur. You know the risk areas from the TV ads – laugh run, bend, sneeze or cough. Some planning began – “Do I need to wear a panty-liner today?” I also attempted to do Kegel exercises, as I understood them, but with little effect.
Then, in the last 4 years, real trouble! Add, “If I am nervous” to the other risk factors, and avoid getting a cough or cold at all costs. Planning now became “Is this a panty-liner, or bigger day?”
Although not automatic, in my case, I have learned this is partly due to natural aging, but unfortunately made worse by “Tamoxifen” which I am on because I had breast cancer in 2002.
In the last 2 years, I have worked hard to correct this condition. First I sought the help of a Physiotherapist, trained in this field, and hard to find. With her guidance, and using the “Aquaflex” cones I made progress. But I stalled after a particularly bad viral cough set me back. I was then referred to Dr. Drutz at the Gynecological-Urology and Urodynamic Clinic in Mount Sinai Hospital, Toronto. Under his careful instruction regarding Kegels and retraining my bladder “schedule”, I often do not wear a pad. I am still vulnerable, but if I leak it is usually a much smaller one than before. So, I still have to consider a pad if I am going to be doing a “dodgy” activity.
If I cannot overcome this and feel confident, I will consider the surgical options. These are minimally invasive procedures which enable us to be independent and active.
Through this journey, I have discovered, in myself and others, that it is easier to talk about sex and cancer than incontinence of any sort. I have agreed to be a spokesperson for The Canadian Continence Foundation to assist in bringing this hidden health problem out in the open. Perhaps the rallying cry could be, “People of Canada unite – all we have to lose is our pads!”