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Caroline Bramwell ®

- UK

Hello, my name is Caroline, I’m 50 (although I don’t feel it!) and I live in north Devon with my husband and two children. I have a permanent Ileostomy, nicknamed ‘Strawberry’ by my children.

 

"Having a stoma may be ‘different’ but it can be the solution to ridding yourself of pain and suffering. It doesn’t have to hold you back; it can give you confidence to go out for dinner, to enjoy time with the family, and take control of your life. I have a passion for showing others who either have an ostomy or who have to consider having surgery, that it isn’t the end of the world. In fact, in can be the start of a whole new way of life, one where you are not housebound or limited in what you can do. Everyone’s situation is different, but there is always an option of not having to live with the disabling disease, UC."

"I am a passionate triathlete. I took up cycling to get fit after my surgery 6 years ago and cycled London to Paris in 24 hours a year after surgery. Then two years ago I decided to learn to swim properly as my children swim like dolphins. When I am not out training, I love books! I read all the time, and am endeavouring to write my own."

Caroline Bramwell was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis (UC) when she was pregnant with her youngest child. Because of her pregnancy it was difficult to control the disease with the usual medication. Caroline continued to suffer symptoms for several years after her baby was born and in 2010 she elected to have a panproctocolectomy (removal of colon and rectum), so she could regain her quality of life and play with her young children. “It wasn’t an easy decision by any means” she says, “I remember my stoma care nurse giving me an ileostomy bag to practice with at home before my op. I put it and just cried.”

"When I am not out training, I love books! I read all the time, and am endeavouring to write my own."

However, after surgery Caroline says “I was just grinning, I instantly felt so much better. Looking back I wonder why I put up with the UC for so long, but I think it just became normal.” Caroline has certainly made the most of her new healthy life and is now a passionate triathlete. “I took up cycling to get fit after my surgery 6 years ago and cycled London to Paris in 24 hours, a year after surgery. Then two years ago I decided to learn to swim properly as my children swim like dolphins.” Caroline is now training for the Ironman contest in Bolton in July.

“I have a passion for showing others who either have a stoma or those considering having surgery, that it isn’t the end of the world. In fact, in can be the start of a whole new way of life, one where you are not housebound or limited in what you can do.” And this is why Caroline joined the Advocate team. “Having a stoma may be ‘different’ but it can be the solution to ridding yourself of pain and suffering. It doesn’t have to hold you back. My stoma has given me freedom to live my life to the max!”

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