After 31 years of service in the Mexican military, Mayor Jorge Vargas Morales retired and was ready to begin a new chapter in his life. A few years later, he was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis and would soon return to serving his community in a different way—by helping to bring comfort to ostomy patients throughout Mexico.
“It was a gift from God,” said Mayor Vargas, who after spending many years with discomfort, pain and limited mobility, could finally return to his active lifestyle, which includes traveling and spending time with his wife, Ofelia, four children and nine grandchildren. He also was able to return to teaching math at a local high school and math/physics at the Civil Engineering School of the University of Colima.
“I remember a time in my life when mobility was almost impossible for me,” he said. “I now feel like I can do anything and want other patients to feel encouraged and empowered.”
Mayor Vargas also became committed to helping fellow ostomy patients and, in 2001, founded the Ostomy Association of Colima or Asociación de Ostomizados de Colima, the first support group for ostomy patients in Mexico. The organization is now represented in 31 Mexican states and its Federal District (Mexico City), and provides counseling to patients and families. In addition, he speaks to ostomates about body image, intimacy and the importance of not being embarrassed by their stomas.
At the age of 69, Mayor Vargas, who was recently recognized by Ostomex, the Ostomy Association of Mexico City, for his dedication and passion to demystify ostomy surgery through education, said he has never felt stronger, younger or more alive.