Inspirational Speaker

The walls of my world gradually closed in until the only place I felt secure was in my own home and in my own bathroom. In an effort to find some humor in what I was going through, I’d joke about my worst nightmare-having to arm wrestle an 80 year-old woman for a vacant bathroom stall.

Lois Fink is an inspirational, inspirational speaker and writer who shares her inspirational story of courage, “guts,” and humor about her 19-year battle with Crohn’s disease. The walls of her world gradually closed in over the years as the disease ravaged her colon and rectum.  Ostomy surgery, at age 36, gave her back everything Crohn’s disease had taken away—a full and active life.  Living with any chronic, incurable disease isn’t easy, and Fink shares with her audience inspirations and lessons she learned along the uneven path to better health.

In 1989, Lois first shared her story with Sally Jesse Raphael’s audience, along with Rolf Benirschke, Marvin Bush, and Mary Ann Mobley.  Her story, “The Four Toughest Words,” is featured in Great Comebacks From Ostomy Surgery, compiled by Rolf Benirschke, published in May 2002. 

Fink has conducted workshops for customer service representatives for a prominent medical supply company in Seattle and Portland, provided the patient perspective in webcasts for Health Talk Interactive on “Intimacy and Crohn’s disease,” “Ostomy Surgery: One Woman’s Decision,” and shared her thoughts on living with Crohn’s disease on

She has spoken to medical and nursing students at universities in Western Washington, as well as the University of Colorado-Denver.   Comments on her presentations include “I feel so much more educated from that one hour talk than from reading and feel more knowledgeable about how to provide appropriate nursing care for patients with IBD.” “She was entertaining, engaging, honest and informative.” “It was great to hear the patient perspective from such a strong and eloquent woman.”

As the guest on Seattle's NPR radio show, The Human Condition in 2003, Lois shared a frank, open discussion of her life with Crohn’s disease and resulting ostomy surgery. That same year, the spring edition of the OQ (Ostomy Quarterly) featured Lois on the cover.   She has participated in panel discussions for the United Ostomy Association (UOA) and the United Ostomy Associations of America (UOAA).  The Northwest Wound Ostomy Continent Nurses Society (WOCN) invited Lois to be a speaker at their 2009 regional conference in Spokane, Washington. In 2013, Lois presented for the first time, along with Joanna Burgess, a general session at the WOCN Society’s 45th national conference, where the two received a standing ovation at the conclusion of their presentation.

Inspired by a courageous teen who worked to get a landmark law enacted in Illinois after she was denied access to the employee restroom during an emergency situation, Lois decided Washington State needed a Restroom Access Bill.  She contacted her state representative, participated in planning meetings, testified before legislative committee hearings, and a year and a half later, was in Olympia, WA watching Governor Gregoire sign Washington’s Restroom Access Act bill into law in 2009.

Believing patients with Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis and those who have undergone ostomy surgery needed greater visibility, and the need to dispel the negative perceptions surrounding these diseases and surgery, Lois was the key developer of the IBD & Ostomy Awareness Ribbon which now boasts supporters from the United States as well as Australia, Nova Scotia, Canada, the Bahamas, United Kingdom, and Malta. 

Fink maintains we can learn valuable lessons from challenging life events and emerge stronger. 

© Lois Fink 2019