Aspiring model becomes online sensation after revealing colostomy bags in bikini selfie
Posting a bikini selfie on social media is hardly groundbreaking- but for Bethany Townsend, one such photo might just change her life.
After suffering silently for years, Bethany was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease when she was eleven. A few months later, she had 16 inches of her bowel removed.
The now 23-year-old was fitted with two colostomy bags in 2010.
In the following years, she underwent a stem cell transplant, contracted the MRSA superbug and almost lost her life on two occasions.
The makeup artist from Worcester in Britain took the pictures on a holiday in Mexico last year with her husband Ian, who encouraged her to embrace her illness.
However, it took six months for her to pluck up the courage to share them to a wider audience.
Bethany said: "When you're on holiday you're in a bit of a bubble and it's much different to when you're back at home.
"I'd posted a few pictures to Instagram and Facebook but only my friends could see them.
"But after looking on the internet I saw a few other pictures of girls like me showing off their bags so I thought why not.
"I decided to get in touch with Crohn's and Colitis UK Facebook group to see if they would let me post something on their page.
"I sent them the picture and my information, and it all blew up from there."
Seeing the photos go viral, the brunette is considering getting back modelling, having given up her dreams when she first had the bags fitted.
Bethany still suffers with Crohn's and is currently hoping that the NHS will fund a pioneering treatment drug that is not yet available in the UK.
Her other option is a bowel transplant.
The inspiring young woman maintains, “I'm still really hopeful and after everything I've been through I know I'm a strong person."
"I'm looking forward to chasing my goals, and I know now that nothing can hold me back. I won't let the Crohn's control me anymore."