YOUNG VOICES

Student Luke Bennett's Colostomy Bag Selfie Is Helping Crohn's And Colitis Sufferers Around The World

25/08/2015 14:10 BST | Updated 25/08/2015 14:59 BST

Luke Bennett is a 20-year-old student with ulcerative colitis - a form of inflammatory bowl disease - which hospitalised him for days, until he had a "terrifying" colostomy bag fitted.

Now, he's hoping to help others in the same situation as him - and posted a selfie with his colostomy bag to show it's possible to live a "normal" life.

"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...

Posted by Crohn's and Colitis UK on Wednesday, 12 August 2015

The student, who was diagnosed with the disease at 16, had his picture posted on the Crohn's and Colitis UK Facebook page - which has since been shared thousands of times, and viewed by more than a million people.

"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," he wrote in his post. "The doctors have tried numerous of drugs on me to try and put me in remission.. 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."

He continued: "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."

Bennett says he feels like a "different person" since surgery and he has learnt to embrace living with the bag.

"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," he added. "It has definitely changed my life."

Dan McClean, director of marketing at Crohn's and Colitis UK, said: "We are currently seeing this inflammatory bowel disease being diagnosed in about 10,000 younger people a year.

"To see Luke's story is very inspiring for a lot of people."

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