Teaching Assistant Proudly Poses In Underwear To Show Off Stoma Bag

There's a lot of negativity on social media these days (and that's putting it lightly), so we can't help but feel refreshed when people try to encourage and inspire others.

Like this teaching assistant who has set up an Instagram account where she posts pictures proudly posing in her underwear with her stoma bag displayed, to inspire body confidence for other bowel disease sufferers.

At the age of 15, Bethany Gallagher (now 23) was diagnosed with Crohn's disease which left her in crippling pain and going to the toilet up to 45 times a day.

Bethany Gallagher, 23, had to have her large intestine completely removed in March this year. Credit: Mercury Press and Media
Bethany Gallagher, 23, had to have her large intestine completely removed in March this year. Credit: Mercury Press and Media

After seven years of suffering with flare-ups that caused diarrhoea, vomiting, bleeding and extreme weight loss, Bethany cried with joy when doctors told her she could have a stoma bag fitted to relieve her symptoms.

Since getting the bag fitted in April 2017, Bethany has been sharing stunning snaps of herself baring her bag while wearing her underwear or bikinis, to inspire others to embrace and love their bodies no matter what.

She wants to spread the word that people can still be 'sassy with a stoma'. What an inspiration.

Bethany poses in underwear showing off her stoma bag to inspire body confidence in other Crohn's sufferers. Credit: Mercury Press and Media
Bethany poses in underwear showing off her stoma bag to inspire body confidence in other Crohn's sufferers. Credit: Mercury Press and Media

Bethany, of Sheffield, South Yorkshire, said: "I started taking and sharing photos of my journey originally for my family and friends.

"My parents didn't want me to get a stoma. They thought it would open up loads more problems like body confidence issues. They didn't want to see their little girl go through that.

"So I set up an account to post pictures to show them that I'm okay and I'm proud of what I have been through.

"I remember thinking one day, 'Why should I not be proud of my body just because I have been through this?'

The teaching assistant can be found proudly posing in bikini pictures on Instagram. Credit: Mercury Press and Media
The teaching assistant can be found proudly posing in bikini pictures on Instagram. Credit: Mercury Press and Media

"The bag saved my life at the end of the day. Besides, I can't hide it. It trumps on its own, it really has got a mind of its own.

"So if there's no point trying to hide it then I might as well get it out. And now, what started as a reassurance for my family has become a massive awareness-raising thing."

After setting up the social media account, Bethany has been contacted by other Crohn's disease sufferers who applaud her bravery.

She went on: "I get so many people messaging me saying my photos inspired them and they've walked down a beach in their bikinis for the first time. I love it.

"It hasn't just helped other people, it has helped me too. It might sound silly but you get so used to the bag that you don't feel it so when you look in the mirror it can be a bit of a shock - like, 'Ooh, I've got a bag of poo stuck to me.'

"But seeing the photos has helped so much, it's made me realise that even with my bag and my scars, my body really isn't that different to other people's bodies.

"I want to help everyone else with a stoma realise that. Here's to being sassy with a stoma."

Bethany is proving you can be sassy and have a stoma bag. Credit: Mercury Press and Media
Bethany is proving you can be sassy and have a stoma bag. Credit: Mercury Press and Media

Brave Bethany started with problems aged 14 when she was suffering with acid reflux and diarrhoea, for which doctors prescribed antacids.

Her symptoms worsened and she was vomiting 'luminous green' fluid and experiencing extreme stomach pains, as well as rushing to the toilet 20 times a day.

Each flare-up saw 5'3'' Bethany's weight plummet as she struggled to keep food down and suffered diarrhoea 45 times a day - and by 22 she hit her lowest weight of just 5st 6lbs.

Bethany Gallagher after having her first stoma bag fitted. Credit: Mercury Press and Media
Bethany Gallagher after having her first stoma bag fitted. Credit: Mercury Press and Media

The TA, who lives with her boyfriend of 10 years - Mike Saul, also 23 - had surgery to fit a colostomy bag last year in the hope it would one day be reversed.

But Bethany then developed diversion colitis, an inflammation of the colon, and the only option was to have a second surgery to completely remove her large intestine and her colon in March this year, making her ostomy pouch a permanent fixture.

Her debilitating condition has seen Bethany torn away from holidays, spending birthdays in hospital and suffering embarrassing accidents while out with friends - but her devoted partner Mike has supported her throughout.

Mike Saul, 23, has stood by his girlfriend Bethany through all her surgeries and hospital stays. Credit: Mercury Press and Media
Mike Saul, 23, has stood by his girlfriend Bethany through all her surgeries and hospital stays. Credit: Mercury Press and Media

Bethany said: "Spending so long in hospital as a teenager was awful. When I was first admitted I was terrified, it was really hard.

"I tried to go away to a festival with my friends but I started having accidents and it wasn't always pooing myself, sometimes it was blood. It was horrible.

"When they told me they could do the surgery I cried happy tears. I was so pleased that they could do something because I thought it was never going to end.

Bethany Gallagher said without her ostomy bag she wouldn't be able to enjoy festivals with her friends. Credit: Mercury Press and Media
Bethany Gallagher said without her ostomy bag she wouldn't be able to enjoy festivals with her friends. Credit: Mercury Press and Media

"I don't think I could have got through it all without my family and my boyfriend. Mike has been so supportive.

"He's there with me every time I have to stay in the hospital. One time he had to wheel me to the bath and wash me and then my bag came off so the bath was filled with faeces but it doesn't faze him at all.

"It's nice to know that even if you have all of this going on, you can find someone who will love you and help you."

What a woman.

Featured Image Credit: Mercury Press and Media

Rebecca Shepherd

Rebecca Shepherd is a Journalist at LADbible. She graduated from the University of Central Lancashire with a First Class BA in Journalism. Becky previously worked as Chief Reporter at Cavendish Press, supplying news and feature stories to national newspapers and women's magazines.

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