A life-long educator, Walt Brilhart has always taken care of others – as a teacher, principal, executive director and associate superintendent of Frederick County Public Schools. When he was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis at the age of 38, Walt needed someone to take care of him. His wife, Lallah, and three sons supported him through full proctocolectomy surgery, but afterwards, he felt devastated. Was this the end of everything that he enjoyed?
Look at me. You can do this. And you’ll be much better off. You’re going to get your life back.
Inspired by the stories of others living with an ostomy, Walt was encouraged to recover. Soon, he was back “on the course,” coaching students, playing the keyboard at church and golfing several times a week.
Today, Walt is retired but is busier now than when he was working fulltime. Not only does he play golf several times a week, he also visits patients in the hospital to assure they that they can return to a normal, healthy lifestyle after surgery.
“I’ve sat by a number of bedsides with people who are worried and scared about what their life will look like after surgery. I look them directly in the eyes and with compassion say, “Look at me. You can do this. And you’ll be much better off. You’re going to get your life back.”
“What I’ve found and explained to people is that life does not turn out exactly the way we plan it. After this surgery, I now know that our true strength lies in our ability to change, embrace distractions and play the cards we were dealt.”
Life doesn't turn out exactly the way we plan it. Our true strength lies in our ability to change, embrace distractions and play the cards we were dealt.