A woman in Scotland has received a lot of support after she posted a photo of herself in a bikini wearing a colostomy bag online. Her message for other people who have her disease is simple: Don't feel like you have to hide.
Marcia Paterson, 40, of Blackridge, Scotland, has Crohn’s disease and had a stoma fitted four years ago after falling seriously ill, but that won’t slow her down, according to the Daily Mirror.
The mother of two decided to share a photo of herself in a bikini on the Crohn’s and Colitis U.K. Facebook page to fight the stigma of wearing the stoma bag.
Paterson’s courageous post drew the support of thousands of people from all around the world, with more than 5 million views, 60,000 “likes” and 5,000 "shares".
A stoma is a surgically-created opening in the abdomen to allow waste to exit the body, according to the Huffington Post U.K.
She has now helped launch a support group for stoma patients, called Bring Your Own Bag, in her home county of West Lothian.
Paterson will be on TLC’s “Too Ugly for Love?” to show others who have Crohn’s disease that they are beautiful despite their illness.
“It’s a condition that can be embarrassing for a lot of people. I was shocked by how many things there were to to consider, and by how it was going to work and affect my life,” she said. “But rather than be negative, I decided to be positive. This is something that happened to me – I never expected it – and I’m not ashamed of my body, the scars, or my bag. I don’t think there should be any stigma at all.”
Last year, bikini-clad photos of Crohn’s sufferer Bethany Townsend, 23, went viral after she posted a photo of herself wearing a colostomy bag while on vacation with her husband in Mexico.
Townsend shared the photos on the Crohn’s and Colitis U.K. Facebook page and more than 9 million people around the world have seen them, inspiring other sufferers to post pictures of themselves with their bags on display.