A former model who suffered most of her life from Crohns Disease (similar to colitis) plans to return to the profession after bravely posing for pictures which exposed her colostomy bags.
The photo – which shows the first time Bethany Townsend, 23, dared to bare after being fitted with two of the bags – has now been viewed by over an incredible 9 million people.
Bethany said: “I didn’t expect this kind of reaction at all.
“The photo has been seen by millions of people and it’s had 190,000 likes and over 10,000 comments on Facebook – it’s just gone ballistic.
“I’m just so glad that it’s brought about more awareness of Crohn’s disease and it’s made me feel so much more confident about the colostomy bags.
“If I can inspire or help other people in my position to feel a little more comfortable in their own skin then I’m really happy.
“When I first had the bags fitted I was devastated – the reaction to this photo has really helped me accept them.”
After almost dying when her bowel ruptured in 2010, Bethany woke from a life saving operation to find she had been fitted with two colostomy bags.
Bethany said: “Growing up I’d had various surgeries to try and combat the Crohn’s.
“I’d go in and have sections of my intestine cut out, but I’d only be in remission for a couple of weeks before it came back again.
“Then, four years ago I woke up in the morning and couldn’t move because I was in so much agony. I had to break a glass on the floor to alert my mum who called on ambulance.
“When the paramedics came they lifted up my top to see that my surgery scar had split open.
“I was rushed to intensive care where they doctors told me family I would need more surgery as my intestines had become infected and inflamed again.
“I had no idea when I woke up that I would have the bags.
“When I first woke up and my mum told me about them I was just relieved as I’d thought I was going to die.
“When I came out of hospital and everything finally sunk in, I remember going upstairs into my bedroom and just bursting into tears.
“I’d known a colostomy bag might have been an option but it was always something that I had wanted to avoid.
“I had a really good cry that day, and since then I haven’t shed another tear – I’ve just got on with it I suppose.”
It was only after Bethany met and married her husband, Ian, 33, and jetted off to Mexico last Christmas that she finally felt ready to accept the colostomy bags.
“I decided to get in touch with Crohns and Colitis Facebook page to see if they would let me post something on their page.
“I sent them the picture and my information, and it all blew up from there.”
Ian convinced Bethany to show off her beauty by wearing a bikini on holidays and from there, she hasn’t looked back. She is a true credit to anyone suffering or suffered in the past from IBD either crohns or colitis.