Whether you are apart of the Inflammatory Bowel Disease community or not, by now you’ve probably heard of Bethany Townsend, the former model who bared her two colostomy bags at the encouragement of her husband while on vacation. Her picture came across my timeline from The Colitis & Crohn’s UK page and I literally yelled out, “Go ‘head Girl!!” and clapped vigorously!
I was happy for her and proud of her. I was scared for her and relieved for her. I was shedding a tear for her, and I’ve never even spoken to this woman. I don’t even follow her on twitter. I’ve just been where she’s at, and yet…not at all, because she has a courage that I haven’t even found in myself yet. But, now I have no excuse not to.
My life with a colostomy was filled with anguish, fear and and pure sadness. I was ashamed, in pain and confused. My son had absolutely no problem with my “boo boo” as he called it. But I did. I thought I was hideous and felt very alone. Now, realistically I know that I wasn’t alone, but being the only one in my family at that time with a colostomy bag, I felt very alone. Had I seen Bethany’s photo two years ago, I might have been a little more comfortable with myself. I might have gone on a few more dates or played outdoors with my son without worrying if anyone was gonna see the bulge behind my shirt. Bethany, just changed the game for a lot of young girls!
Her story is beyond extraordinary and inspiring. You wanna talk about a fighter and healer. Ms. Townsend should be celebrated for her bravery and perseverance to just not let Crohn’s take her and consume her. People like her are that beacon of hope you seek out when you are first diagnosed and the people you listen to on the days you aren’t sure you can make it through. They say a single picture is worth a thousand words. Ms. Townsend’s photo might have saved a thousands lives as it went viral and has brought an international spotlight to our diseases highlighted by People Magazine and ABC news.
To Ms. Townsend, thank you. Thank you for being so brave. Thank you for lending your voice. Thank you for being an inspiration to so many young people who are too scared to bare their bellies. Thank you for baring your soul. I don’t even know, but I absolutely love you! I am so grateful for you! You are my Hero!