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Colostomy bag image sparks talkfest

Journalist Stephanie Kay tells of her admiration for a woman who shared a photo of her colostomy bag.
Journalist Stephanie Kay tells of her admiration for a woman who shared a photo of her colostomy bag. Robyne Cuerel

A PHOTOGRAPH of a beautiful young woman relaxing in her bikini has gone viral, dominating social media and news headlines, but the reason why may surprise you.

English sufferer of Crohn's disease, Bethany Townsend, 23, has two colostomy bags and is pictured with them proudly displayed while relaxing in the sun on a Mexican holiday.

She had her stomas (a hole in the abdomen so waste can leave the body) created after almost dying when her bowel ruptured.

The inspirational image has stimulated conversation about stomas and as someone who once had a bag, I couldn't be more pleased.

I had an ileostomy for just four weeks, as a young woman battling bowel cancer, and needed the bag while I healed from a complicated surgery.

An ileostomy comes from the small intestine and colostomy comes from the colon. Some are temporary, some are permanent.

The stigmas surrounding stomas are real, prevalent and extremely unhelpful to the people living with them.

While no one likes to talk about poo, it's important we encourage those with bags to hold their head high and "strut with their front butt".



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