My Name is Natalie Jane
I am a mum that was so upset by my Urostomy bag that I hid it from friends and I would cry myself to sleep. I’ve now bravely posted photos of myself wearing just a bikini to reveal my Urostomy to the world for the first time through social media. I shared the pictures of my Urostomy a year to the date from when I had the ‘life saving’ surgery on June 14th 2016. While my friends were supportive of my photos, for most it was also a big surprise, as they were clueless that I even had ‘TOM’ my stoma. I call him Tom because when I first showed my children, my daughter said it looked like a tomato and it made me laugh and lightened the 20 questions they had.
I am a 28 year old Cervical Cancer Survivor, that’s how my bladder had a hole burnt through it, known as a Fistula. This was due to side effects of Radiotherapy cancer treatment between 2012 and 2013. I am a young single mum of two and have been unable to work for five years since my diagnosis of cancer. I’ve suffered with depression and dramatic weight loss. This lead to me having to have a PEG (Percutaneous Endoscopic Gastrostomy) inserted into my stomach to supply my body with the nutrients I needed. All due to the complications surrounding my bladder.
Attempts were made to save it with a complex surgery called a Mitrofinoff, but this was unsuccessful for me after 2 years of various problems with it. I was to have the Urostomy, which I had dreaded and wanted to avoid. I believed that no man would find it attractive – UNTIL NOW.
When I thought about having a bag for life, I thought I would look so ugly I really didn’t want it. I didn’t think it would be something that people would see past.
My friends had never seen my bag, it took me a long time to come to terms with it. When I posted my photos and a brief explanation, I couldn’t bare to look at the comments that people had written. My close friend Laura Evans, who took the photos for me told me to read them. So I did. It was so emotional and overwhelming.
It’s really helped to start building up my confidence slowly, that people have accepted Tom and think I still look beautiful.
The long battle I have faced since my Cervical Cancer diagnosis in 2012 to the point of 5 years later having a Urostomy, all the more difficult to start with. I underwent a Hysterectomy aged 24 in October 2013. This was before the Fistula caused by the Radiotherapy was found in 2014, leading me to have more major surgeries.
The Chemotherapy and Radiotherapy treatment worked and I had the all clear in 2014. Doctors operated to lift my ovaries prior to my cancer treatments to try and save them from getting damaged. But unfortunately that didn’t work and there was too much damage done by the Radiotherapy.
I don’t know how I got through it all, my Grandad has been my rock. Friends have been and gone while making new friends along the way. I’m very grateful I have my two children already before any of this happened.
The Hysterectomy didn’t solve the problems. I kept getting blood clots and then became incontinent.In early 2014 I really wasn’t good, I was in hospital more than I was at home. They told me I needed a Mitrofinoff. While all this was happening, back home, my daughter Bailey, now Nine, and son, Mason, now Seven, were staying with my Grandad waiting for me to finally come home in the hope I’d not have to go back again.
I underwent the Mitrofinoff in October 2014 at UCLH, Central London, but after complications lasting 2 years I went from a confident size 12/14, weighing around 12stone. I dropped down to just 5 stone 10 at my lowest point.
I was on my own in London. It was really frightening and very depressing. The operation didn’t work out. I was getting infections constantly which kept putting me back into hospital at the Royal Glamorgan, Llantrisant. It made me very ill.
As a result, I couldn’t bare to eat, which led to the PEG and dropping to a size 4/6. For my BMI I was very underweight. At this point you could see my bones including my spine and hips very prominently, along with my arms and legs being tiny.
After going through such a big operation, I thought I’d be ok. I thought I would have been ‘normal’.
Since the Urostomy, which I also had at UCLH, London, I found it hard to accept my bag over the past year.
So now I’m just under 8 stone and finally had the strength to show Tom to everyone and show the real me. I wanted to lift a weight off my shoulders. Since posting I’ve had an overwhelming response. Even became part of a Urostomy campaign with fellow Ostomates.
I would really like to help raise awareness that not all bags are to do with poop and you can still be beautiful even with a bag.
Being a young single mum, with a Urostomy, I’ve found it hard to date and felt ashamed to tell anyone about it and push people away. Now after this, I found the confidence to tell people that I have it and believe that one day Mr Right will come along and accept me for me (with Tom) haha
Having a stoma of any kind whether it be a Urostomy like myself, a Colostomy or Ileostomy does not make us any less beautiful or attractive than anyone else, it makes us strong people that are still sexy, our bags don’t define us.