G’day, osto'mates'!

When I was 21, I needed a permanent ileostomy due to early stages of bowel cancer. Living in a rural area of Australia, I didn’t know anyone that could help me understand ostomy life and I felt a bit alone. That’s why I love social media!

Did you know there are over 44,000 Australians living with an ostomy? For me, ostomy connections are made the moment one person says to the other, “Wow! You too? I thought I was the only one.”

Here are 20 amazing ostomates and fellow Aussies that I've connected with on Instagram.

1. Belinda Weihen @bee_and_the_sea

Belinda is 28-years-old and lives with stage 4 metastatic colon cancer. When she isn't undergoing treatments of chemo and radiation to kick cancer’s butt, Belinda can be found bucket listing. Her outlook on life is so inspiring and I’m a better person just knowing her.

2. Will Cusak @bagfordayz

Will is 27-years-old and has an ileostomy due to Crohn’s disease. He first became an ostomate at 17 due to a car accident which was later reversed, but after a severe flare in 2015 his ostomy was made permanent. Will has his sights set on obtaining his truck and road train licenses and hopes to own a fleet of trucks one day.

3. Laura Zapulla @stoma_licious

Laura is a traveling fanatic! Six months after having ileostomy surgery in 2013, she traveled to three continents and 17 countries. Her blog, Stoma-licious, documents her life with an ostomy sharing many tips and advice. She moved to London with her husband earlier this year, but to me she’ll always be an Aussie at heart.

4. Erin Goodwin @insideout_ostomy

Erin has an ileostomy due to ulcerative colitis and has been involved in advocacy for years, including being President of the Western Australian Ostomy Association. Earlier this year she began her blog, Insideout Ostomy Life, and recently won the WEGO Health ‘rookie of the year’ award!

5. Josie Edwards @joedws

Josie is 18-years-old from Melbourne who has an ostomy due to a rare illness called Gastroparesis. I can tell she adores animals from her posts about horse riding and her gorgeous puppies. Her strength and positivity for going to high school with a chronic illness and ostomy is truly admirable.

6. Sam Abarca @aussie_ostomate

Sam run marathons to support Crohn’s and Colitis Australia and she’s also a Registered Nurse, so she's been on both sides. Her never-ending devotion to being a mum of two and nursing makes her exceptional in my eyes. A new lease on life keeps her active and smiling every day!

7. MJ @emjayuc

MJ is a creative graphic artist and illustrator from Sydney who had ileostomy surgery in July due to ulcerative colitis. She loves her cat, named her stoma Cherry Blossom, and sometimes even draws art on her pouch with inspirational messages. MJ’s positive outlook will naturally bring a smile to your face.

8. Nat Hazlewood @teamhazlewood

Natalie is a college student who had ostomy surgery as well as a liver transplant. Last year she participated in the Australian Transplant Games representing Queensland where she won gold in every event! She is a passionate advocate for blood donation, organ donation and IBD.

9. Krystal Miller @bagladymama

Krystal is an advocate with a passion to help others living with IBD and ostomies on her blog, Bag Lady Mama, and to thousands of admiring followers on Facebook. She’s been seen on Huffington Post, Buzzfeed, Cosmopolitan, Hello Giggles, The Mighty, and more!

10. Luke Esecombe @lukeesecombe

Luke is an award-winning singer-songwriter, blues guitarist, and comedian. He is the creator of "Chronic Symphonic," a musical comedy show about health with strings. As a keynote speaker, Luke uses this platform to raise awareness for IBD and ostomies and recently won the WEGO Health award for 'hilarious patient leader'.

11. Renee Con @pouch_by_pouch

Renee is from Sydney and recently returned to Uni pursuing the master’s program in linguistics. She chronicles her stoma journey and shares her tips along the way. Renee loves keeping fit and active as well and doesn’t let an ostomy stop her from wearing gorgeous outfits.

12. Danielle Reid @myileostomy

Danielle is 25-years-old from Melbourne who has an ileostomy due to Crohn’s and Perianal Disease. She’s grateful for her ostomy, saying “my quality of life has completely changed thanks to the baggie on my tummy.” She’s traveled all over, from The Eiffel Tower in Paris, to Venice, Europe and London.

13. Jess Adrienne @_jessadrienne

Jess is tackling the stigma attached to living with an ostomy through her own personal struggles accepting a stoma. Being truthful about a turning point she said, “I've learned to embrace life as it is right now, no matter the circumstances, because it's actually our differences that strengthen us.” Her feed is open and joyous and honest.

14. Cat Keast @cat_keast

Cat has been through a lot in the past 10 years battling Crohn’s disease, developing psoriatic arthritis and having ostomy surgery. Now she’s on another journey losing an incredible 21kg (47.5lbs) which has completely transformed her life. Cat’s goal is to is help other people through her professional work as co-founder of Australia's first post ICU follow-up clinic—how incredible is that!

15. Aylan Seal @aylanseal

Aylan recently had reversal surgery, but continues to do amazing advocacy work for ostomy awareness within the LGBTQI+ community. He has been married for eight years and is a professionally trained Hypnotherapist. Aylan is a role model whom I admire because he cares so much about others who are living with an ostomy.

16. Kaitlin Burrows @_kaitb

Kaitlin is 24-years-old from Sydney who has a Chait cecostomy due to salmonella poisoning. She’s loves sharing posts about her super adventurous life and has a career that allows her to travel all over the world. Kait talks openly on her blog about body image and ostomy life as a teenager to inspire and encourage others.

17. Brad Ferguson @bradfergusonn

Brad is in his twenties and currently lives on the Gold Coast. He’s an avid adventurist who loves the outdoors, photography, music, and surfing. Whether he’s digging on heavy machinery at work, BMX biking, or chasing waterfalls, Brad is just enjoyin' the ride.

18. Yvonne Thomas @whymtee

Yvonne is an ostomate 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. She is definitely making the most of every day.

19. Niina Aoki @niinaaoki & @stomiandi

Niina is a brand new ostomate having surgery in September due to Inflammatory Bowel Disease. She lives in Perth with her husband Aaron and their adorable cat Panko. At @stomiandi, Niina talks openly about life with Crohn’s and an ostomy, while @niinaaoki shows her incredible talent as an artist and illustrator.

20. Talya Goding @feelingostomistic & @theostomisticlife

That's me! I’m 26-years-old and have a permanent ileostomy. I post about my happiest moments, like sitting by the garden at my home, cuddling with my adorable kitten and spending time with my husband Russell doing bucket list adventures! I am extremely passionate about helping others through my blog Feeling Ostomistic and online magazine, Ostomistic Life, that caters to ostomates under 40. 

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