Crohn’s sufferer aims to break stigma of stoma bag

Marcia Paterson. Picture: Comp

Marcia Paterson. Picture: Comp

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A WOMAN who suffers from Crohn’s disease and had a permanent stoma bag fitted has gone on national television to spread the message that nobody should be ashamed of their body.

Marcia Paterson had a colostomy in 2009 after undergoing surgery to have part of her bowel removed following a serious illness.

But the 40-year-old, from Blackridge, West Lothian, said that instead of feeling embarrassed about her condition, she stays positive and is taking part in a reality TV show to help raise awareness of what it means to live with a stoma bag.

She is appearing in Too Ugly to Love on the TLC channel along with other people who have hidden conditions or illnesses that dominate their lives, including alopecia, excessive sweating and severe burns.

Mum-of-two Marcia started the BYOB (Bring Your Own Bag) group with a pal, and was asked to appear on the TV show after receiving an overwhelming response to a picture she posted on the Crohn’s and Colitis UK Facebook page.

While on holiday, she uploaded a snap of herself in a bikini with her stoma bag clearly on show and received thousands of messages of support from people around the world after it was viewed by five million people.

The positive response encouraged her to take part in the dating show after she was approached by TV producers.

Marcia said: “The programme follows about ten people with hidden conditions or illnesses and how it affects their life and how it makes it difficult to meet new people and start relationships.

“I don’t think there should be a stigma. It is a condition that can be embarrassing for a lot of people and, when I had the stoma fitted, I was shocked that there were so many things to consider and how it was going to work and affect my life.

“But rather than be negative, I decided to be positive. This is something that happened to me – I never expected it – and I am not ashamed of my body, the scars or my bag.”

But she said dating while under the glare of the film crew isn’t something she is keen to repeat.

She added: “Doing the documentary was fun and a really good way to raise awareness. But if I do go on another date, I won’t be taking a film crew.”