A stoma is an opening on the abdomen that can be connected to either the digestive or urinary system to allow waste to be diverted out of the body and collected in a special bag.
According to a report released by the National Center for Educational Statistics in 2016, more than one out of every five (20.8%) students report being bullied. Bullying is a prevalent issue in schools all over the world.
A 10-year old kid from Kentucky named Seven Bridges was one of the victims of relentless taunting in his school. He was harassed by his classmates because Seven had a stoma bag attached to him. The experience became unbearable for the poor child, that he ended up taking his own life.
Charlotte Anders, a 12-year old girl from Merseyside who had a colostomy bag herself, learned of the horrifying news about Seven’s death. This tragic situation sparked a desire in Charlotte to help prevent other children like her and Seven from being bullied.
The Year 7 pupil proudly posted photos of her showing her stoma bag in social media with the hashtag “#bagsoutforseven”, in an incredible stand of solidarity despite her tender age. The hashtag was started on Instagram after Seven’s tragic passing on January 19 this year. The movement involved people posting self-portraits in social media while proudly donning their stoma bags.
Despite her young age, Charlotte was adamant on taking part in the anti-bullying campaign, telling her family: “This is nothing to be ashamed of, it’s saved my life.”
The youngster has suffered from constipation since she was three years old and had a colostomy bag successfully fitted in May 2017. However, a decision was made to remove her bowel that wasn’t working properly and she had a stoma bag attached to her ileum.
She was recovering well from her ileostomy procedure when a week later, Charlotte woke up with excruciating pain in her sides and burning temperature. After several tests, it was found that the child was in septic shock and there was a high chance that she would not make it due to the bacteria present.
Her family and friends watched as she was taken back down to theater without the assurance that they would ever see Charlotte again. Fortunately, after five long hours inside the theater, Charlotte amazingly survived and was put back in critical care.
Since then, Charlotte has been sharing pictures of herself baring her bag, to inspire others to embrace their bodies no matter what.
Charlotte’s mother Nikki Anders felt so proud of her daughter. She says, “She never gives up regardless of how ill she is.”
“Charlotte found it so sickening that somebody was exposed to so much torment that they felt that they would be better off dead. Her message is “bullying is never okay and ask me don’t talk about me, I will never be offended by a silly question. She saw the story online and was really upset that this poor boy decided to do that and saw the #bagsoutforseven campaign mostly done by adults posting pictures online and decided to take part.”, Nikki says about her daughter Charlotte.
At first, she was doubtful about Charlotte’s decision since the people in her school weren’t aware of her situation. But this didn’t stop her from participating in the campaign.
We applaud Charlotte for her bravery! Her optimism has been intact despite all the pain and hardships that she has been through. She came out strong and now, Charlotte is inspiring people from all over the world to love and embrace their bodies, no matter what the circumstance.
Thankfully, there are people like Charlotte who are sharing how they deal with their stoma and this young woman in the video below is also helping spread awareness about this issue.
If you want to help enlighten others about this issue, please SHARE this story to your friends and family.