Dallas Fowler was simply shopping one night in Walmart with her 2-year-old son when the unexpected happened.
Her son, Jameus, has Hirschsprung's disease, which prevents his large intestine from passing waste after a rupture in his colon when he was just two weeks old. He wasn't wearing a onesie that particular evening in Walmart because Fowler was just quickly running out to the store near their hometown of North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, she explained on Facebook. When his shirt rode up in the store, a passerby saw his stomas and bags.
"There was an older woman in line behind me who caught a glimpse and shrieked a little before she said to me 'Why in the world would you let someone do that to him?'" she wrote. "I turned around speechless and just looked at her before she continued and asked why he had them. I gave her the short version and basically said "'H]is colon didn't finish forming so he needed them' ... She then goes '[W]ell I am sorry but I just think that is so 'repulsing', can you please keep his shirt down?' At this point I just wanted to shake this woman and scream '[W]hat is wrong with you?!' But instead, I told her to have a good night and went to another line."
What the ignorant woman in line at Walmart didn't know was that the stomas, or openings from his colon, were Jameus' only shot at life. He has had over 20 surgeries to get where he is today, but that wasn't apparent at first glimpse.
See what that woman doesn't understand is, when my son is healthy, he is no different than any other 2 year old. He runs, plays, swims and goes to daycare. When he's healthy, you wouldn't be able to look at him and know he's had over 20 surgeries and procedures. You wouldn't know that he's got more ahead in his future. You wouldn't know he gets painful home dilation and irrigation treatments twice a day every day. You wouldn't know that every day a catheter is put into his stoma to "feed" it stool twice a day in the hopes of growing his colon. He's my heart. He is so funny, and full of personality. He is sweet and loving and kind but also a little ball of fire. Please be kind and choose your words wisely, especially should you choose to comment about something that is none of your business. Everyone is fighting a battle you know nothing about, and my son is winning his.
Since sharing her story, the response has been amazing, Fowler told The Huffington Post. The awful moment has becoming a teaching opportunity to spread knowledge about Hirschsprung's disease.
Given the opportunity, Fowler would tell the woman "Thank you," if she could speak to her again today.
"Because of her ignorance, I was able to turn something really negative into something really positive," she told HuffPost. "I've reached people all over the world and now thousands of people have heard of Hirschsprung's Disease. I would definitely tell her thank you."
Fowler set up a GoFundMe page for Jameus last April to help pay for his medical expenses. Head to the site to donate.