When I was 21, I had permanent ileostomy surgery because of early-stage bowel cancer. Living in a rural area of Australia, I didn’t know anyone else with an ostomy and felt a bit alone. That’s why I love social media! Here are 18 fellow Aussies who I follow on Instagram, and you should too.
1. Belinda Weihen
Belinda was diagnosed with stage 4 metastatic colon cancer. When she isn't undergoing treatments to kick cancer’s butt, Belinda is bucket listing. Her outlook on life is so positive and I’m a better person for knowing her.
2. Will Cusak
Will has an ileostomy because of Crohn’s disease. He actually became an ostomate at 17 from a car accident which was later reversed but then after a severe Crohn's flare in 2015, he had permanent ostomy surgery. Will is going for his truck and road train licenses to one day own a fleet of trucks.
3. Laura Zappulla
Laura is a traveling fanatic! Six months after having ileostomy surgery in 2013, she traveled to three continents and 17 countries. On her blog, Stoma-licious, she documents her life with an ostomy and shares tips and advice. She moved to London with her husband in 2017, but she'll always be an Aussie at heart.
4. Erin Goodwin
Erin has an ileostomy due to ulcerative colitis. She's been involved in advocacy for years as President of the Western Australian Ostomy Association. In 2017, Eric created a blog called Insideout Ostomy Life which won WEGO Health's ‘Rookie of the Year’ award.
5. Josie Edwards
Josie is 19-years-old from Melbourne who has a colostomy due to a rare illness called Gastroparesis and also has a Mitrofanoff. I can tell she adores animals from posts about horse riding and her adorable pups. Josie completed high school and is now studying for her nursing degree — both truly admirable.
6. Sam Abarca
Sam is a Registered Nurse and a stoma nurse in training. She runs marathons to support Crohn’s and Colitis Australia and is a devoted mum of two beautiful girls. An ileostomy gave Sam a new lease on life which keeps her smiling every day.
7. MJ Pureza
MJ lives in Sydney and has over 15 years of experience as a graphic designer. She had ileostomy surgery in 2017 because of ulcerative colitis and named her stoma "Cherry Blossom." MJ loves traveling with her husband, spending time with her cat, and creating graphics with inspirational messages. Her sunny outlook on life will brighten your day.
8. Nat Hazlewood
Natalie was diagnosed with IBD and had ileostomy surgery and a liver transplant. In 2016 she participated in the Australian Transplant Games representing Queensland where she won medals in every event! I applaud her passion to advocate for blood and organ donation.
9. Krystal Miller
Krystal is a mama on a mission! Her blog, Bag Lady Mama, is raw, honest and real about IBD, ostomies and mental health. She supports so many people and charities and has been featured in the media A LOT, including Huffington Post, Buzzfeed, Cosmopolitan, Hello Giggles, The Mighty, and many more.
10. Luke Escombe
Luke is an award-winning singer and songwriter, blues guitarist, comedian, and the creator of "Chronic Symphonic," a unique and hilarious musical comedy show. He won the WEGO Health award for 'Hilarious Patient Leader' in 2017 and has spoken all over the world as a keynote speaker for IBD and ostomies.
11. Renee Con
Renee is from Sydney and recently returned to Uni pursuing the master’s program in linguistics. She posts about her fit and active life to send a positive message about not letting an ostomy stop anyone from living life to the fullest.
12. Danielle Reid
Danielle is from Melbourne and has an ileostomy because of Crohn’s disease and Perianal disease. Why is she grateful for an ostomy? "My quality of life has completely changed thanks to the baggie on my tummy.” Danielle has been all over the world; The Eiffel Tower in Paris, Venice, Europe, and London.
13. Aylan Seal
Aylan used to be an ostomate, and even though he had reversal surgery he continues to do amazing advocacy work for ostomy awareness within the LGBTQI+ community. He's been married for nine years and is a professionally trained Hypnotherapist. Aylan is a role model whom I adore because he loves and cares about others very much.
14. Kaitlin Burrows
Kaitlin is 25-years-old and from Sydney. She has a Chait cecostomy because of salmonella food poisoning. Kait posts about her super adventurous life and has a career that allows her to travel all over the world. She writes on her blog about body positivity and self-care to inspire and encourage young women.
15. Brad Ferguson
Brad was diagnosed with Crohn's disease and had a temporary ileostomy last year. He’s an avid adventurist who loves the outdoors, photography, music, and surfing. Whether digging on heavy machinery at work, BMX biking or chasing waterfalls, Brad is definitely making the most of every day.
16. Yvonne Thomas
Yvonne has a stoma due to cancer and has a very inspirational feed. The homemade desserts look so delicious and her love of fitness is inspiring. You can see Yvonne skiing in New Zealand, surfing the Gold Coast waves, and cycling through nature. Yvonne is "living life with love and endless laughter."
17. Niina Aoki
Niina had ileostomy surgery in 2017 because of Crohn's disease. She lives in Perth with her husband and adorable cat Panko. At @stomiandi, Niina posts about ostomy life, while @niinaaoki shows her amazing talent as an artist and designer.
18. Talya Goding
That's me! I’m 27 and live near Coffs Harbour with my husband Russ. I post about my happiest moments, especially cuddling with my sweet kitten Dusty. I'm passionate about helping ostomates through my online magazine, The Ostomistic Life.