Teenager with a stoma

Oliver shows having a stoma is not the end of the world

Hi I’m Ollie, I’ve just turned 16 years old and I’ve been diagnosed with Colitis. A few months ago I had major surgery to remove my colon because I was so unwell (acute colitis), I now have an ileostomy. I was missing school, time with my mates, not sleeping or eating, so losing over one quarter of my body weight and no treatments seemed to be working for me. I tried mezazaline, to steroids to immunosuppressants to biologics to lifestyle changes and many other medications. Stoma surgery was the treatment that worked for me. It left me with a stoma bag and it saved my life.

I wanted to turn this into a positive, so I created a Facebook and Instagram page called @thekidwithabag to spread and raise awareness for this invisible illness and support young people like myself who have been through or are going through with this condition. In addition I’ve raised over £1000 for two IBD charities (St Marks and Crohn’s & Colitis UK) which can be found through my social media. I wanted to create this platform because as I was going towards the pathway for surgery. I turned to social media where I discovered a big community of people and organizations who speak out about this invisible condition and who are happy, living a normal life; this gave me that extra comfort and inspiration plus helped me get through the surgery. Therefore if I could give someone, who’s worried about surgery, that extra inspiration and clarity that life does get better with the bag, that is the most amazing feeling in the world. Not many young people speak out about this topic and there’s a lot of stigma surrounding the topic, so by me speaking out and spreading awareness I hope to break that misconception of life with a stoma.

  • Thank you for sharing my story and helping me spread awareness for this invisible condition 

  • Good for you Ollie - I became ill when I was 13 and had surgery for ulcerative colitis when I was 17. I wouldn't swap my bag for all the world.  My stoma is now 52 years old.  i'm living a great life - enjoying every moment.   All those years ago it was pretty much hidden - people didn't talk about bags and now they're wearing them on the outside!    Good luck in all that you do!