Hello beautiful people! Here we have a little mini series where YOU get to be the star and rightly so! We want to get to know more about each and everyone of you and have you help us spread positivity regardless of what has shaped you to your gorgeous self now.
Let me please introduce Rachel of Rocking2Stomas:
We often hear how life is a journey; how has your journey shaped you?
Wow, what a very thought-provoking question. Life is definitely a journey but for me having a stoma (or 2) has been a journey of acceptance and respecting just how miraculous my body is with all it has been through.
I used to see my life with a chronic illness like a roller coaster; with my many hospital admissions and operations, it was very much up and down, living moment to moment on a ride I could not get off. Over the last 2 years, I have realised the importance of viewing my life as a river rather than a roller coaster, which is much more comforting and peaceful. Instead I see myself as bobbing along the river of life with the energy flowing in the background. I let life go where it needs to go through the rapids; whirlpools and waterfalls and soon they pass as the river changes. I feel the current of life and respond to whatever comes my way especially in regards to my health. I see it as a passing moment and try to have faith and hope that the tough times will pass.
Life has not always been this easy now I feel I have come through the worse and gone through the painful stage of acceptance to now being able to give back and help others who are about to have stoma surgery. I can honestly say I am extremely grateful for what my stoma's have given me. I have a purpose again, an amazing man (with a stoma), awesome friends and a community I am part of. However, the most important thing is that I am still alive and try to see every day as a gift because it may be gone tomorrow.
Have you had any mountains to contend with along the way? If so how did you overcome them?
Hell yes but I try to see them as an opportunity to better myself and celebrate getting to the top of the mountain and out the other side. I have a lot of challenges but one of the toughest for me has been the recurrent failed operations for my prolapsed ileostomy. I have had have 8 full abdominal refashion surgeries in 18 months to fix my 8 inches prolapsed ileostomy. Every time the surgery had failed I was back on surgery roller coaster praying that this time it would work. It is hard when your body does something that no medical expert can really explain. I felt like giving up, each surgery was worse than the last as my tolerance to pain relief increased.
At this point I did not realise an online ostomy community existed; I felt like I was the only person in the world with a troubled stoma but I was very wrong. When I found the online community I realised I was not alone and started chatting to other ostomates with prolapses. When my last operation failed my surgeon and myself decided that due to scar tissue and complications I would have no more surgery to fix my stoma. In making that decision I felt a sense of relief. The operation roller coaster stopped and I got off.
It is since then that I really feel I am living again. Yes my stoma is not pretty and a bag change takes a little longer involving ice and lying down but it is my ‘new normal’ I have accepted the way my stoma is. I had to learn to ‘let go’ and accept the cards that I have been dealt with. Now I use those cards to help others in a similar situation which is so rewarding.
If you had to give your younger self one piece of advice what would it be?
I think I would tell myself ‘To be grateful for the body you have now". It has taken me 20+ operations, a huge scar and 2 stoma's to realise how beautiful and awesome my body is. Before I got ill I never really respected it. I wanted bigger boobs, smaller hips and to be thinner. I never appreciated just how lucky I was to have my health! If I could have foreseen what would have happened maybe I would have stopped slamming my body and instead have celebrated it for what it was a 'healthy body'.
What advice would you give others (or yourself) when it comes to body positivity?
I have learnt the hard way after having my ileostomy for 6 years and my urostomy for 2 years that I had to learn to accept and love my stoma's before I expected anybody else to. I remember in past relationships accusing partners that they had an issue with my stoma's which wasn’t really the case. It was me that had the issue with my stoma's, I couldn’t except them and I had to do a lot of self-development to learn to first like them, then love them too now finding gratitude for my stoma's.
We have talked about journeys, well I believe body positivity is a huge journey that takes some time. Sometimes when I have a bad day when my prolapse is massive and I can see it through my clothes instead of being down on my body I think back to how life was before I had my stoma's. It was pretty horrific and this seems to put it in perspective for me. I hated my body for a long time but I realised this was a difficult place to be in so I started doing affirmations daily in the mirror and now I can honestly say I am more confident in my body now than I was before I got ill.
Who holds your upmost admiration and why?
Oooh what an interesting question! There are so many but I would have to pick Katie Piper. How she overcame her horrific ordeal when acid was thrown in her face and how she stays positive even through the toughest of times. She pushed through all of her obstacles and now gives back with the Katie Piper Foundation and shares her story and vision to have a world where scars do not limit a person’s function, social inclusion or sense of well being.
What do you look for when you buy lingerie?
I look for something that catches my eye with the design, colour and fabric. Where I can feel a million dollars and look in the mirror and feel proud of the person standing back.
How do you think lingerie should make you feel?
It is so easy to think that lingerie is only bought for you to wear in front of your partner and that’s it. In reality, lingerie is for YOU, for you to feel confident, sexy, powerful and womanly regardless of who sees it. I have before dressed up on my own to take pictures and just sat in my stockings and garter all night because it makes me feel confident and is empowering.
How has the Jasmine Stacey Collection lingerie helped you get to this point in your journey?
Where do I start? JSC is not just lingerie to me it is a way of life. It is about being confident in your skin and feel proud and strong! To own our scars, stoma bags, mum tums, stretch marks and to feel confident in the bodies we have been given.
I was at a confidence photo shoot for JSC in December with 8 other girls (I wrote a post about the experience here) It was the day I truly felt sexy, confident and beautiful, taking part in the photo shoot. I was first given the emerald set I bought on the crowdfunder and slowly unwrapped the tissue paper. I remember seeing the lingerie and straight away I did not feel disappointed by the material or the colour. When It was my turn I went to the changing room started taking my clothes off. I initially felt very nervous and scared for the photo shoot but as soon as I started smoothing on my stockings and hooking them up to the suspender belt I felt empowered, confident and sexy. The fear melted away and I took a moment to look in the mirror and thought ‘wow, Rachel you have got this’ a new confidence was born that day and since then I have been nurturing it.
Which is your favourite set and what do you like most about it?
I love the floral set! Stephie saw these before they came out and said the floral's were so me but instead I went for the emerald set. Since seeing the floral's (shop bra here, shop brief here) in person at the photo shoot, I decided to buy them myself and I simply love them. I find JSC sets very unique and simply stunning.
I just want to say thank you so much to Rachel for taking the time to answer the questions. If you would like be part of "For the Love of Lingerie" series and you have some of the sets please get in touch via our Facebook page.