International Woman’s Day

Any Human Heart, What's Happening?

Happy International Woman’s Day!  To celebrate this wonderful day I thought I would take a moment to mention just a few (there are many many more but that would take forever) of the fantastic women have made me the woman I am….

My mum and I getting ready on my wedding day.

My mum and I getting ready on my wedding day.

My Mum

Possibly predictable, I know, but she has sculpted me into the woman who I am in so many ways.  My mum’s positive attitude to life and death became even more inspirational when I had cancer.  I see so much of my mum in the way I’m raising my children and my most my strength comes from my mum (and my lovely dad, but I guess that comes on Fathers day?!)  Even 6 years after she passed away I can hear her when I question what I am doing, encouraging me to do better.

Ms Nicola Fernhead 

Ms Fernhead saved my life.  Literally.  She is the amazing surgeon at Addenbrookes hospital who oversaw every aspect of my cancer treatment and performed my twelve-hour lifesaving operation.  She stripped me down and put me back together again (physically and spiritually I think)… and added an extra bit!  To be able to identify someone who is one of the major reasons you are actually alive is a bizarre but very wonderful thing.

Polly Nobel 

I knew when I got through cancer I was going to write (and write and write) but I remembering being at a loss of where to start.  Then I found Polly Nobel’s website Polly’s Path.  A wealth of information about healthy living and being a twenty-something woman living with terminal cancer.  Although we had some differing views on life with cancer (and diagnosis), it was so inspirational and starting helping me picture what I wanted to achieve with this blog and my non-fiction writing.  I had the joy of meeting Polly in 2013 at an event and she was just as inspiring on real life.  Unfortunately Polly died last year but her legacy lives on.

The lovely Thalia Skye

The lovely Thalia Skye

Thalia Skye

My first paid writing job was from this amazing and inspirational lady, Thalia Skye, and the fantastic website that I contribute to through Coloplast, My Ostomy.  It truthfully is my dream job and I am SO grateful to Thalia for giving me the chance and teaching me so much about vlogging, social media but even better than that… Thalia has taught me so much about my own stoma!  From practicalities to realising how much I appreciate having this life saving bag and the strength to keep talking about it and raising awareness about life with a colostomy / iliostomy of how boringly normal life remains!

Dr Anna Tripp

My personal tutor at university and the woman who agreed to take punt on a thirty-something mother who was desperate to finally fulfil a dream of reading Literature and Writing at university.  It’s one of the best decision’s I have made in my life and I can’t thank her enough for seeing enough of a spark that she would take a chance on a woman with absolutely no academic level 3 qualifications.  She rocks!

My sister and my son

My sister and my son

My Sister

Where oh where would I be without my sister!  Sisters (especially one like mine) are the best thing ever.  An absolutely driving force in my life that keeps me moving forward no matter how much I want to give up and stop and who shines the brightest light in my darkest of days.  I quite simply would not be here without knowing that my sister is well and truly in my corner.  And now my kids get to enjoy having the best aunt in the world.  I love this woman!

There are plenty of other women in my life who have done more for me than words can say.  In particular my wonderful female friends and all the women in my family – they are all strong wise and wonderful.  From the little things to the massive things you have all built me into who I am and for that I am truly thankful.

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Is The Sun Setting on Hiding Your Colostomy?

Any Human Heart, Cancer & Me, Colosto-ME

As I said in my Nicola B and the Two Big C’s blog post, I have never hidden the fact I have a colostomy, traditionally I have never made a massive point of it either.  This has changed slightly in the last few months.  Talking about it more openly through the fabulous Cancer Research UK and starting to write for Coloplast UK and this blog have all, on a very personal level, made the experience of living with a colostomy easier for me.

The colostomy still remains hidden in many ways.  I still dress in a way that keeps the bag unnoticeable, I generally wouldn’t mention if I was having a problem with it and even when writing articles about going on holiday or swimming with a colostomy, the emphasis has been on how to hide your bag and I think that I can generally say this is the same for most colostomy wearers (we generally refer to ourselves as Ostomates).

But something strange has been happening on my Facebook and twitter pages.  Photo after photo of ostomates proudly showing off their bags!  I think the most well-known would currently be the absolutely gorgeous Bethany Townsend with her photo in her bikini on honeymoon in Mexico.

1970702_869609589731765_188481301_nCrohn’s and Colitis UK shared Crohn’s and Colitis UK’s photo.
July 2 · Edited

“I’ve had Crohn’s since I was 3 years old but was misdiagnosed until I was 11. Just 4 weeks later I was having 16 inches of my bowel taken out.

Since then I’ve been on steroids, infliximab, methotrexate and every other drug going as well as being tube fed for 4 years. After five more operations my bowel burst 4 years ago and I ended up with two colostomy bags. They thought that would help until 4 weeks later and it was back.

10414574_930802690279121_2727569953559798389_nI then went on to have a stem cell transplant which was in trial in the UK, we all hoped it would work but unfortunately I caught MRSA of the skin and the blood and it nearly killed me twice. Since then my Crohn’s has still been extremely active, I’ve lost more weight and now I’m waiting for the NHS to fund a drug that hasn’t really been in the UK. If this doesn’t work a bowel transplant is in talks as I can’t have anymore of my intestine out as I haven’t got much left.. BUT I’m still hopeful.

Finally after three and a half years, I decided that my colostomy bags shouldn’t control my life. So when I went to Mexico with my husband in December last year I finally showed I wasn’t ashamed. Still hoping for a cure…”

#myCCUKstory by the truly brave and inspirational Bethany Townsend.

Help us find a cure by making a charity donation at https://www.justgiving.com/crohnsandcolitisuk or Text CCUK14 £5 to 70070

She looks SO totally gorgeous.  All I kept thinking when looking at it was, I wish I had that girls figure!  But Bethany isn’t the only one, there is also the amaze balls Blake Beckford and the wonderful Thalia Skye, all showing them off.

What does this mean for me?

Well I’m not putting a belly-selfie up yet although if I’m honest that’s more weight vanity than anything else.  (What??  Colostomy or no colostomy I’m still a girl!)  Once I reach my goal weight, I may consider it, but seriously,

When I started writing for Coloplast, they told me that their hope was to make having a colostomy as normal as glasses or a hearing aid, just something some people need to live life to the fullest.  This seemed a tall order because truth be known, I didn’t see my own colostomy like that.  I saw it as a hinderance, a cruel reminder left on my body by a hideous disease.  One that I accepted I had to live with and I was happy to get on with, but I hated it nonetheless.  If I hate it, how will anyone else ever accept it?

What these Ostomates have truly done for me is given me a confidence that I didn’t imagine I would ever have about my colostomy.  

It is not something to be shy about or hidden, it is something to be embraced and thankful for.

I honestly never thought I would reach a time in my life when I would think that about my colostomy.

So for that I am truly thankful to all ostomates who are putting themselves out there and normalising having a colostomy (or iliostomy – more about that in a later post).

My wonderful friend who bought me Fish and Chips when I was having my ‘This Too Shall Pass’ day said, “surely its just like underwear”.  I had never thought of it like that but she is so right.  Non-ostomates cover their privates with pants and knickers, I cover mine with a bag…. I do also still wear knickers… just wanted to make that clear!

The shifts that are happening in my brian at the moment are nothing short of miraculous and I truly have all the amaze balls Ostomates who are sharing their stories to thank for it xxx

As well as my friends, family, Cancer Research (especially you Tom) and Coloplast, love you guys xxx

 

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