A woman who has lived with a stoma bag for 11 years has found the confidence to go swimming in a bikini for the first time.
Lisa Wilkinson, 30, from Kirk Hallam was diagnosed with bowel condition ulcerative colitis at the age of 19. She underwent an operation to have her large bowel removed and has had a stoma bag ever since.
Earlier this month she got a tattoo next to her stoma bag which says ‘life takes guts’ next to a butterfly with a purple ribbon that represents the Colitis and Crohns UK, and a rose.
Lisa, who has her own business making stoma bag covers, said: “I was confident in my body but not in showing it. I really wanted to wear a bikini and I thought ‘I’ve got to do it one day, so I decided to have a tattoo that meant there was something to look at instead of just looking at a bag.
“It’s something that means a lot to me and I felt it would make me more confident. I just thought ‘Right, I’m going to do it’, so I made a cover to match the tattoo and went to Water World in Stoke on Trent. People were looking but they were giving me really nice smiles which gave me much more confidence.
“If people look at me and think ‘if she’s doing it why can’t I?’ then that’s a good thing.”
She has shared it to a few pages online and said the amount of feedback she have had is incredible: “I have given confidence to some others out there. Since getting the confidence to do it I feel so much happier and like I have overcome something I never thought I would,” said Lisa.
At first, living with the ileostomy bag, Lisa didn’t know much about the condition and struggled at first with the changes to her body. But she has met other woman going through the same thing and her confidence has grown. Last year she posed in her underwear for a charity calender.
Her business, Stoma Style, is also booming and has orders from all over the world.