Tuesday, 19 February 2008

Don't Look at This Post if you Don't Want To See an Illeostomy Bag...

Okay, now don't read this post if you don't want to see what having a bag looks like, because I'm about to show you. I know it's not pretty however it is real and I think people need to be made aware of what they are and what they look like. It is not pretty but neither is a dead body and that is what you would be looking at if it weren't for these bags. They save lives. Having said that they also take a lot of getting used to and yes they do challenge your idea of body image. You have to try and get past that if you want to stay in control of yourself. I think the more that people are made aware then the more that people with a 'bag' are going to have an easier time accepting what has happened to them, which is very important. Anyway I have been promising to show you what it looks like for a while now so this is the post in which I will show you. I will give you a before and after shot, unfortunately I don't have a before photo of my midriff uncovered so I will just show you one as close to as possible. The reason I'm showing you some of me in underwear is because I want to show you how I looked before and what I could wear before, so you get the full impact of what happens and what we actually have to get used too. I know those shots don't show my stomach but you can tell by me walking down the stairs how flat it is and that there is no 'bag' there then, the one where I am sitting on the bed putting on my shoe I think shows something that most women take for granted, putting on our underwear and pretty shoes ready to go out somewhere, I have used it to highlight the huge impact and difference on lives this causes. Okay, this is very difficult for me to do, I don't even show people in real life, except my very closest friends and here I am putting it on the internet for anyone and everyone to see, however, if it helps awareness then it is worth it. When you see the ones of the 'bag' you can clearly see a scar going down and then across like and 'L' shape but there is also one going straight down which has faded somewhat, that surgery gave me this bag, if you look closely you can see it, it goes straight down to my pubic bone, so I am a bit of a mess with scars, they are a lot more noticeable in real life too.

I truly hope that by putting myself 'out there' like this it helps other people who may have a 'bag' to come to terms with it and also those that don't to understand a little what it may be like for people that do. I will discuss the affects and some more issues in my next post.


  1. If touching people to their very core makes a difference, you can rest assured you've done that.

    Sending fierce admiration and wishes for relief.

  2. Jen,

    You are amazing I am absolutely speechless, thank you for sharing this with us, I agree with Amanda 100%.
    Love Deb Ross xxxx

  3. My Dear sweet girl, You were beautiful then and you are beautiful now. You are a brave person to share it all with everyone out here. You have something alot of women don't, beauty on the inside AND out. That is why so many are caring and praying for you. Your true heart shines through. MY love and prayers to you. love debi

  4. Hello, Jen -- I come from Beth's blog and send you my greetings and prayers and support for your challenging battle with cancer. I've been reading through your posts and find you a most inspiring woman whose courage is a powerful and selfless gift to all of us. Please let me join in the positive energy that I know is coming your way from many.

  5. Yep, still beautiful. And red undies... you go!

  6. Dear Amanda, thank you for your kind words.

    Deb, you are a sweetie and we will catch up eventually, I'm sure of it.

    To the very sweet person that is anonymous thank you also your words are healing.

    Jeannie you are too kind and your comment made me smile.

    Wilsonian - you made me laugh, do you know I didn't take any notice of what color undies I had on but it is funny now that I think about it. Take care all of you and thank you so very much. xxx

  7. Your willingness to live into the truths of your experience and then share some of that journey... gifts, truly.

    I'm holding you in the Light (it's a Quaker thing)...

  8. Hi Jen- I come via Bella’s blog. One of my family members had the same procedure and was too ill to care for herself so I took care of cleaning and changing her bag. She was very embarrassed, although I truly did not mind. What I’m trying to get across is that I wish she could have been comforted by knowing that she was not alone. I wish the same for you as well.

  9. So so so proud of you Jen--For stepping so fiercely out into the light. Sending love-

  10. A very good friend of mine had surgery and needed a bag for a few months recently. I am grateful that they exist, because that bag did help save her life. Her scars, like yours, are beautiful because they are part of her life story. Your scars, like hers, show what a strong and inspiring person you are.

    Thank you for sharing them. If you've done one thing, it's to make us all treasure every day even more than before. For that, I am truly grateful.

  11. You are truly an inspiration, beyond belief! You are beautiful, amazing, and prayers are being said for you.

    Thank you for sharing your stories and your heart,

  12. Jen - you amaze and humble me every day. Always sending my love, xo Jena

  13. I wish we all looked like we did when we were young but life happens. You have a bag therefore you are still here and that is all that matters.
    Your beauty is not only related to physical appearance (and hey it appears those workmen liked what they saw!)- it is inside your soul.
    K x

  14. You're braver and stronger than you think. Keep fighting. Feel our prayers and love.

    Hugs sweet friend!

  15. Thank you Shelley, I'm Holding You In The Light, I don't know what it means in Quaker terms however, it sounds beautiful even without knowing it's true origins. Bless you and take care xxx

    Chloe you are an angel in disguise, I so admire people that can empty and take care of other people's bags because it is not a pleasant job. I too wish that your family member had of seen this and perhaps not have had to feel so ashamed and embarrassed. xx

    Meg you are my soul sister and I love you, I love your words too xxx

    Anonymous - thank you, even without your name, I still feel the strength in your words and I thank you so much xx

    Thank you e:), it is true that these bags do save lives so I guess to the people that love us that makes them beautiful, I know if it was my son or someone dear to me I would find it beautiful too. xx

    Anonymous your words make me blush but I thank you so very much for caring and wanting to inspire me. xx

    Dear Jena, thank you again for your support, I appreciate it so very much. Take good care xxx.

    Hey Karen, thank you, I see the wisdom in your words, none of us look as we did when we were younger, that is so sensible of you to point out. And yeah, the workmen didn't mind what they were looking at!!! lol Take Care xxx

    Thank you Kat, your words are always so inspiring and caring and I thank you once again. You take care also.

    Thank you all so very much, I hope you realize that even if I haven't got back to you, I appreciate every comment. I find it difficult to get back to everyone, although I am trying as with the time I have left I want to spend it on my boys and writing them letters and cards etc, I know you understand and you did not write to me because you expected an answer. xxxx Truly, I thank you all from the bottom of my heart.

  16. hiya Jen

    You know, I wish I had half the amount of bravery and strength you show me every single time you post. I am "still" flat out letting even my husband see my bag little own ready to publish a picture on the www. But you know what struck me most... is that YOU are gorgeous, bag or no bag, you are knock people down kinda gorgeous, both inside and out. I am so proud of you and have just so much admiration for you right now. You constantly inspire and amaze me.

  17. You are bold and I love it.
    We need this, to have the real thing shown, to step out from the shadows and name and show, what most are afraid to speak of.
    you are teaching us and opening eyes.
    My admiration is beyond words.

  18. It's hard to find the right words in the face of such beautiful honesty. Your willingness to share and bring understanding to others is inspiring, Jen.

  19. Thanks Carmel, well you are not alone feeling this way which is one of the reasons I am doing this. xx

    Thank you Bella, your words always touch me. Take care xxx

    Thanks Jennifer, I appreciate it, I honestly do. You take care too xxx

  20. Again, I am lost for words because you are so amazing to do what everyone should be able to do, but what most people are too scared to do. You are SO much more beautiful than you realise.

  21. Wow Jen You are truly an exceptional person.Brave, courageous, awesome, inspirational just so so amazing and yes such a beautiful, gorgeous person inside and out, yesterday, today and tomorrow.

    thank you so much for letting us all share in your journey. It makes me feel very humble, and privledged to know you.

    love always

    Leeanne x

  22. Jen,
    I think you look beautiful now as you did before! You amaze me each and every time I read your words--your bravery and honesty bring me back to center. Sending you love and prayers....


  23. Beautiful inside and out, you are !
    Because even though you have shared your bag and scars with us....all we really see is the huge, beautiful heart that you have.
    You are so so brave and once again, by sharing, you are sending so much awareness into the world and for that, we are all so grateful !

  24. I have just found your blog, and I am amazed how strong, beautiful, creative you are. I also thank you for helping everyone unserstand what it is like to live with cancer, you do sucha wonderful job.. your words are always perfect. But above, I want you to know that I admire what a great mother you are.

    My thoughts are with you.

  25. Jen - I've tagged you if you're up for it!

  26. Dear Jen!

    Thank you for these photos! This is real, we are living in a real world and pain is around us. Before the bag and after... what can I say, you're forever lovely and these photos help us to understand better situations like this because it really exists!
    Sending love,

  27. jen, you are even more beautiful now than ever! thank you for sharing this with the world. you are courageous and beautiful and sweet and lovely and just gorgeous inside and out.

    you are loved my friend,

  28. Hello...again, amazed by your courage and honesty. Of course I'm sure you would rather not have to be so brave, but still your courage does not go unnoticed.

  29. I'm touched by your experiences and honesty and by your willingness to share. God Blesses us through you Jen. Thank-you. xox~Elaine

  30. Oh my - you look great bag and all. And red undies to boot!

  31. Thanks for sharing. I know it was difficult for you and very brave thing to do. I cared for an older man with a bag last winter & I know how difficult it can be to manage. You are wonderful & inspiring.

  32. You make that bag look hot!

    You are such a beautiful person. Your battle scars are beautiful too, they are proof of your will to live and how much you've had to fight to keep going.

    Thanks for being so brave and showing us.

    Good luck for your results today, I'll be thinking of you.

  33. I would love to hold you.

  34. I am touched by your words about how we take for granted the pleasure of getting dressed up to go out. And I really appreciate your honesty and openness. May you have less pain and more happiness tomorrow.

  35. my granddad had a urostomy bag. I loved him lots. I fondly remember him patting his bag to see if he needed to go. You're right about the bag-- it kept him alive and well for many years.
    may your bag do the same for you.

  36. I think about you every day, Jen. Your words about the laughter of your son's teachers--the perfect morning--and how you responded to it, and now this...

    Baby, you are bodacious and bold and brave. To share this on the internet is radical and generous. And, while I haven't read the rest of the comments here yet, I'm sure they say what I'm going to say: you still are simply beautiful.

    It breaks my heart to know what you've gone through, what you're going through. I'm sending you love and praying for grace.



  37. Thanks Girl about Town, I appreciate your words and I hope this makes it a bit easier for others who have a 'bag'.

    Thanks Leeanne I appreciate your kind words, we still must catch up for that cuppa soon!

    Thank you to so much firefly hill, you are a so very kind.

    Dear Beth I am so very lucky to have such wonderful readers like you that see past the 'bag' and see me, I truly hope that that happens more often for other women (and men to for that matter.)

    Dear anonymous thank you the greatest job I will ever do is mothering, it means everything to me.

    Ok Jena, I'll see how I go x.

    Bete, thank you for your support all along this journey, you are a blessing and very dear.

    Dear Shelbi, thank you so very much my dear, your words mean a great deal.

    Dear Nora Bee, I would indeed rather not have to go through this, but I do believe in making the best of things and if I must go through with it I may as well try and do something good with it.

    Elaine, thank you for your kindness, you are so sweet.

    Shalet, glad you like the red undies - someone else pointed that out and I wondered why I hadn't noticed that I was wearing red undies.lol. Thanks for your support.x.

    Dear Oliver Rain, thanks for your support and I admire you for taking care of someone with a bag. x.

    Thanks Wendy, you are too nice and funny too! Thanks for your support though take care. xx

    Thanks anonymous.

    Moanna, thank you for your wishes, I certainly hope they come true. xx.

    Jesais thank you for your support, it is true these 'bag' keep a lot of people alive. x.

    Thank you Jill, you are so kind and caring and I need that at the moment, so thank you so very much, take good care Jen xx

  38. My aunt had bowel cancer almost forty years ago and ended up with a colostomy. I've seen all types of scars and ostomies and bags over my years of nursing. I remember reading somewhere, or someone telling me, I can't remember now, that the stoma isn't any worse than the original exit (the rectum) and it's true. Stomas actually look better than assholes I think, not so hairy. Sorry.

    Thanks for sharing the photos. It must have been hard to do but I think it's good for people to see.

  39. Jen,
    You are beautiful, with a loving heart and soul...you are utterly amazing. I say a prayer for you everytime I think of you which is a lot. Thank you for sharing your story and truly shows how the internet knocks down barriers.
    I am blessed to know you and I will try to pass along more courage and strength.

    One of my favorite songs is "State of Grace" by Seal, which I listened to and thought of you.

    God Bless....

    (Roswell Georgia)