Woman becomes internet star after posting inspiring bikini selfie with colostomy bags

Bethany Townsend's holiday photo has been viewed by 12.4 million people

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A make-up artist who has suffered from Crohn's disease since she was three-years-old has inspired people around the world after she posted a holiday snap of herself in a bikini with two colostomy bags.

Bethany Townsend, 23, has become an internet sensation after sharing the photo on Facebook.

The snap has been viewed by 12.4 million people and Bethany's story has given others the confidence to share their experiences on social media.

Speaking to charity Crohn's and Colitis UK, Bethany said: "I've had Crohn's since I was 3 years old but was misdiagnosed until I was 11. Just 4 weeks later I was having 16 inches of my bowel taken out.

"Since then I've been on steroids, infliximab, methotrexate and every other drug going as well as being tube fed for 4 years. After five more operations my bowel burst 4 years ago and I ended up with two colostomy bags. They thought that would help until 4 weeks later and it was back.

"I then went on to have a stem cell transplant which was in trial in the UK, we all hoped it would work but unfortunately I caught MRSA of the skin and the blood and it nearly killed me twice. Since then my Crohn's has still been extremely active, I've lost more weight and now I'm waiting for the NHS to fund a drug that hasn't really been in the UK. If this doesn't work a bowel transplant is in talks as I can't have anymore of my intestine out as I haven't got much left.. BUT I'm still hopeful.

"Finally after three and a half years, I decided that my colostomy bags shouldn't control my life. So when I went to Mexico with my husband in December last year I finally showed I wasn't ashamed. Still hoping for a cure..."

Appearing on This Morning, Bethany told presenters Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby: "It's gone absolutely crazy, I didn't expect it at all.

"It was just a picture that I got my husband to take on holiday and it was just for me and him really."

Nearly 180,000 people are diagnosed with Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis every year.


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