Suzanne, 49

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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