If you had asked me this three years ago, my answer would have been so different from what it is now. I would not have been able to tell you one good thing that my stoma had brought me; in fact, I felt my stoma was the worst-case scenario, the worst outcome, something I didn’t want to have or live with. This was all due to my perception, lack of knowledge and awareness, and how I thought my life would be.

Don’t get me wrong; I will never say I love my stoma and fully accept my stoma, as each day can be different and feelings can change. But what I will say is those bad days are far and few, and the good now outweighs the bad. I am content and happy, and never in a million years did I think I would feel like that. It just takes time.

Having my stoma bag has actually made me more confident in myself now than I’ve ever been! It has taught me so much about real bodies and how everyone’s normal is different. It has helped me help others by sharing my journey and creating awareness, teaching those who are new to stoma bag life or may potentially need a stoma in the future to realize it’s not how they think it is, and in many cases, change people’s lives for the better. It has helped me realize and accept that what others think of me is none of my business, and it’s okay to be unapologetically me!

Through sharing my journey and creating awareness, many doors have opened for me. Working with companies and brands that never in my wildest dreams did I think I would ever get the opportunity to work with. Just brands simply wanting me for me the way I am, stoma bag scars and all, has really built my confidence and has shown me this is reality and life for so many of us, and we shouldn’t have to hide away to protect other people’s feelings or because we are afraid of what others may think or say!

I now take a core rehab class for those after stoma surgery to help patients regain strength in their core and confidence in everyday life, which feels so rewarding that I am contributing to their recovery in some way. Especially as I know how challenging those first few months can be, just being able to chat to someone that’s been through it can really help and make a difference to see further down the line. I feel it gives hope to patients seeing someone else that was once in their position now living life to the full and content and happy.

Finally, without my stoma bag, I wouldn’t be here, so my stoma has kept me alive! And as hard as some days can be or have been in the past, that will always be at the forefront of my mind. Maybe not the life I was expecting, but a life that I’m happy to be living.