Rachel Jury, 30, is determined to show how users can still live life to the full despite the two stoma bags she is forced to wear after food poisoning from cooked chicken nine years ago triggered a long-term health condition.
Tara Russell of the Daily Echo reports Jury’s rare condition, autonomic neuropathy, has left her bowel and bladder both failing and she has endured years of ill health including frequent bouts of sepsis and even cardiac arrest as a result.
However she is grateful to the two bags for saving her life – a urostomy bag for diverting urine from the body and an ileostomy bag for faeces nicknamed Squirt and Bob. Now she has launched a social media campaign calling on others to share pictures proudly flaunting their bags to reduce taboos and stigma.
Rachel, from Boscombe, who has created a poster of the pictures, said: “We have bravely bared all to raise awareness and knowledge of stoma bags but especially urostomies because there is a lack of awareness and knowledge among the general public and medical professions about them. We are often the forgotten group of the stoma family.
“We want to show you can still live a life and love your body. I want to help others celebrate their bodies no matter what they look like.
“We are beautiful, we are brave, we are warriors, we are survivors of our diseases.”
The former radiotherapy student believes a bad case of food poisoning may have triggered her condition nine years ago.
She explained: “I contracted campylobacteriosis from already cooked chicken purchased in a well-known supermarket chain.
“Little did I know then that this moment would be the catalyst that triggered a chain reaction of multiple organ systems failing. From that day onwards my life would never be the same again.
“Having a stoma bag can cause huge struggles with body image and they can be a taboo. I used to hide under dark baggy clothes but I realised they are something to be proud of, not ashamed of. They are part of us though and we wouldn’t be here without our bags.
“I feel like I’ve been through a lot but I feel I want to turn the negative into something positive.
“I am proud of the body that has kept me alive and I want to urge others to not be ashamed.
“I live one day at a time. I don’t know how long I have but I will live each day to the maximum and if I help one person I will have done my job.”
For information go to Rachel’s blog rocking2stomas.co.uk