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Cancer Survivor Launches Fashion Blog for Ladies With Ostomy Bags

Suzanne Dore was diagnosed with advanced stage colon cancer at the age of 36, and after chemotherapy, radiotherapy and an abdominoperineal resection surgery, she now wears a colostomy bag. After the operation, Dore, 42, realized she had to alter her closet to accommodate her bag. Now, she’s sharing what she’s learned over the years on her new fashion blog, “Gladrags and Bags.”

“My blog isn’t going to appeal to those who prioritize comfort, there’s plenty of sites for comfy colostomy clothes, and their offerings scare the cr*p out of me (if you’ll pardon the pun),” Dore wrote on the intro page of her website.

It isn’t just about looks. “Wearing tight clothing can often cause the bag to leak, as it disrupts the flow into the bag, which is extremely embarrassing as it stinks,” she said, speaking to press agency Hotspot Media. “But I refuse to allow myself to be restricted to wearing baggy clothes, simply because I have to wear a colostomy bag.”

Dore offers tips on specific styles and shares how to make life with her bag more comfortable. “I don’t claim to be the next Gok Wan, but I just hope my advice can help some people,” she told Hotspot Media.

Here are a few excerpts from her blog:

Suzanne Dore
Image courtesy of Hotspot Media

“I’m not totally 100% body confident (who is?!) and I always strive to look the best that I can. Under this dress I wore a huge pair of Spanx that I cut a hole in for my bag to poke through, similarly to the holes I cut in tights, I still feel I get the desired effect of holding in all of the bulges without the absolute that the bag would leak inside a pair of Spanx.”

Suzanne Dore
Image courtesy of Hotspot Media

“I inadvertently ended up with this top in the dressing room purely for nostalgic reasons, I bought this exact top from Top Shop 25 years ago when I was working as a Saturday girl there. The fact that it was from the TALL section turned out to be serendipitous, the extra length in the body means my boobs and more importantly my bag has the space required for P/R (poo room).”

Woman in pink peplum dress
Image courtesy of Hotspot Media

The Peplum has the benefit of cinching in at the waist to enhance my figure (which at best I would describe as a lumpy hour glass) and the frill becomes a modesty curtain. It really did give me an extra confidence boost, and I had a fantastic night, most of that confidence was down to the bag being absolutely hidden away.”

Woman with ostomy bag in bikini
Image courtesy of Hotspot Media

“Here’s little trick I developed on the beach; since having my stoma front sleeping or front laying is a no no (which is a pain when you need to tan your back half) so on the beach before I lay my towel down I measure where I will be laying, then dig I a little hole in the sand that will line up with my bag, then lay the towel on top and press it into the dip a little, hey presto front bathing with a free flowing stoma and no risk of leaks!”

“Six months after my operation, we went on a family holiday to Cuba where I braved a 10-hour flight,” Dore told Hotspot Media. “I wore a bikini and I felt so confident. Sometimes people give me a passing glance when I wear a bikini but I keep a smile on my face. I’m not ashamed of my bag, I look at it as giving me life – the cancer could have killed me so wearing this is a small price to pay.”

“Dressing with an ostomy can be a challenge for both males and females, but it wouldn’t be a surprise to find out that women struggle with this predicament more often than not,” Keagan Lynggard, who serves on the Management Board of Directors for the United Ostomy Associations of America (UOAA), told The Mighty. “I struggled for a while with finding clothes that I felt confident and comfortable in without completely abandoning my sense of fashion. Having a blog that not only provides tips of what to wear, but also where to buy it, is something that will be an excellent resource for many ostomates.”

Bonus: A Men’s Guide to Dressing With an Ostomy

The Mighty, in partnership with Fuck Cancer, is asking the following: Write a letter to yourself in regards to a cancer diagnosis. What would you say or wish someone had told you? Find out how to email us a story submission here.

h/t Daily Mail