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20-Year-Old Proudly Shows Off His Colostomy Bag in Underwear Selfie

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Luke Bennett wants the world to know he has a colostomy bag — and he’s proud of it.

The 20-year-old British law student bravely shared an underwear selfie showing off his ostomy pouching system with Crohns and Colitis UK’s Facebook page on August 12, and the photo now has more than 2.2 million views, according to the group. He also wrote an inspiring note in which he encourages others with the inflammatory bowel disease not to be scared of seeking this method of treatment.


Ulcerative colitis is caused by an abnormal response by the body’s immune system, according to the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America. The immune system mistakes food and bacteria in the intestine for invasive substances, which results in the body sending white blood cells into the intestinal lining, causing chronic inflammation and ulcerations.

In the original post on Crohn’s and Colitis UK’s Facebook page, Bennett revealed that he was diagnosed with the disease when he was 16, and after suffering for several years he decided to have his large bowel removed and get fitted for a bag. Bennett snapped the photo above just five weeks after his surgery.

In the message accompanying his image on Crohn’s and Colitis UK’s Facebook page, Bennett wrote:

Hi, Im Luke, I am 20 years old and was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis at 16. At the start I didn’t know much about the disease except for the fact that both my cousin and my uncle had it. For the first year my symptoms were pretty mellow, until one big flare-up during a holiday in Cyprus in 2012 led to me being hospitalised for 5 out of the 7 days out there.

The doctors have tried numerous of drugs on me to try and put me in remission, from Asacol & Prednisolone all the way to Infliximab & Humira, but my body did not respond to any of the drugs. I was just about keeping my head above water when I made the brave decision to have elective surgery to have my large bowel removed.

The thought of having a ‘bag’ is terrifying as most of the young people you see around you are confident with their bodies and its the time in a persons life when they should be enjoying life without any worries. However, life isn’t always kind to us and the decision for me was either to have surgery and live with a stoma bag, or continue with this disease until I was going to need emergency surgery in the future.

I had a sub-total colectomy last month and ever since I had the surgery I feel like a different person. Yes the first 2-3 weeks of the surgery is all aches and pains, but nothing like the pain I had been experiencing before. This photo was taken just under 5 weeks after having the surgery and I’ve learned that living with a ‘bag’ isn’t as terrifying as I anticipated. It’s just another part of me which I have to learn to embrace.

I hope for the people reading this with young children who are suffering with Crohn’s Disease or Ulcerative Colitis, or for young people themselves living with the disease, that my story helps you in anyway to not feel frightened if surgery is ever offered to you or if it your only option. It has definitely changed my life.

Originally published: September 2, 2015
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