I’ve always had really bad stomach aches since I was little. 10 years ago, I was diagnosed with Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). I didn’t know what this was; I thought it was like the flu and that it was normal. I didn’t realize this condition was going to be my life-long friend.
7 years ago, I found out I had uterine cancer after doctors found adenosarcoma, which is now in remission. Years later, I failed every medication available to me. I was told the only other option was a J-pouch surgery, which gave me a temporary ostomy. Once it healed, the disease returned and attacked the pouch that was created. This was considered a failed procedure, and I was told that my ostomy had to be permanent.
LIFE IS TOO SHORT TO LET FEAR HOLD US BACK FROM LIVING OUR LIVES.
2 years ago, my IBD diagnosis changed to Crohn’s. It’s not the best answer I wanted to hear, but I knew I could live a life with an ostomy—it would just take some adjusting. Since my ostomy used to be temporary, I knew the ins and outs of what to expect.
When I had my temporary ostomy, I started modeling to make myself feel better. I wanted to do a body positivity photo shoot, so my friend connected me with a photographer. One thing led to another, and I found myself talking to a photographer with Vogue UK (I thought I was being catfished). Before I knew it, my photos were published in the magazine.
I don’t see myself as a model with an ostomy and Crohn’s. I love that I can wear something and no one knows I’m disabled, or I can wear a swimsuit, and everyone knows I have it. I’ve done so much with my ostomy, and I feel it’s given me more courage.
There are negative stigmas around ostomies, but the biggest myth is that an ostomy is a death sentence. My mom can attest to this; she previously thought my life was shortened because I received an ostomy. Women also think they can’t wear form-fitting clothes, they’re going to smell bad, they can’t have sex, and so many other things—but we can literally do all of the above.
Live your life and enjoy it to the best of your ability. Ask your doctor as many questions as possible before surgery if you can. It’s not a pretty journey; we all have our moments… but we help each other as a community. Being in the presence of women who get it is a whole different vibe… it’s comforting.