Looking at Bethany Townsend’s beautiful face, you’d never think she suffers from Crohn’s disease, a debilitating condition that wreaks havoc on a person’s digestive system. Earlier this week, the 23-year-old make-up artist and aspiring model posted a striking photo of herself on Facebook sunbathing in a barely-there black bikini with an unusual accessory: a colostomy bag. The photo, which has gone viral, has received more than 200,000 “likes” on Facebook.
She shared her story with Crohn’s and Colitis U.K., an organization to raise awareness and funding for research. Townsend, who lives in Worcester, England, reported that she’s contended with Crohn’s since she was 3-years old but was misdiagnosed early in life. It wasn’t until Townsend was 11 and needed urgent surgery to remove a 16-inch section of her bowel that she was given a correct diagnosis.
She’s spent her young adult life trying a number of unsuccessful treatments to ease her symptoms including steroids, infliximab, methotrexate, as well as being tube fed for four years. But after undergoing five surgeries, Townsend’s bowel ruptured and her doctors told her she’d need to wear the colostomy bags.