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Suzanne, 49

#auguts hard to talk about

I absolutely wear my bikini with pride! My body survived what tried to kill it and that’s great! Nothing can detract from that for me personally.

The moment I was told I’d need a permanent colostomy as part of the treatment for stage 3 bowel cancer, I was in shock. I was truly traumatised by the thought of it. I had a few weeks of chemo and radiotherapy to get through before the operation but still my mind raced at a million miles an hour. All my thoughts were negative. I think back to that time occasionally and wonder if I had been better informed would I have been so horrified?

I didn’t know of anyone with a stoma. I didn’t know what the bag would look like on. I certainly didn’t know how I’d feel.

I was very lucky. When I came round from the operation to remove the tumour and to make the stoma, I felt reset, reinvigorated and almost reinvented.

Maybe it’s because I survived, not just the cancer but the operation too (it’s pretty hard-going). I came round, saw the little red blob of a stoma and thought “I can do this! This is fine!”.

I feel that it’s really important to spread stoma information. My experience has mostly been positive (a few leaks here and there but no more than my very broken bowels before surgery). I really, really like my stoma. I have a colostomy, so I appreciate I am dealing with the easier option.

I feel very grateful to still be alive. I feel elated by it to be honest.

I’ve had 2 negative incidents from strangers on Instagram. That’s it. Two nobodies stating that I shouldn’t be so proud of my body and that it should be covered up, in 12 years of posting positive photos of me loving life. I’ll let you use your imagination on how I dealt with that. But suffice to say I will bikini until I no longer wish to.

I absolutely wear my bikini with pride! Not because I have a great body – I have eyes! But because my body survived what tried to kill it and that’s great! Nothing can detract from that for me personally.

I understand if people don’t feel comfortable in their skin, bagged or not. We’re conditioned that way. But my perfect body isn’t one that looks incredible, it’s one that feels incredible – one that feels happy and confident and at peace.

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Explore the #auguts campaign 2023

#auguts stories

We’re highlighting topics that are difficult to talk about and research that’s hard to fund. Read and watch stories from bowel cancer and bowel disease patients and researchers.


I was born 8 weeks premature with Intestinal Malrotation. My understanding is they weren’t sure what was causing me the pain as a newborn, being premature too. When surgery was eventually done it was found my bowels had twisted. Corrective surgery was done. I was christened in the hospital as it wasn’t looking great.

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I have diverticular disease on the right side of my body and I believe only a few people have it on this side.

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Frank McDermott

Mr Frank McDermott is a Consultant Colorectal Surgeon and Cancer lead for the Genomics Medicine Service Alliance in Southwest England. His grant with Bowel Research UK why some patients with diverticulitis experience serious complications such as blood infection, while others have milder disease. 

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Read my story

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Join the #auguts campaign by sharing your own story via video or the written word! We are looking for videos and stories about difficult conversations people have had about their bowel condition, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, or anything else related. Our Patient and Public Involvement Manager Sam Alexandra Rose has created her own video as an example, which you can see below to give you some ideas.

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    Find out more about #auguts 2023

    We brought some of our patients, researchers and our CEO together to talk about what makes bowel disease hard to talk about and hard to fund. Watch them share their stories and join the campaign.

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