A YOUNG woman from south east Northumberland is determined to raise awareness of a disease which almost took her life.
Gemma Sales, of Doddington Drive, Cramlington, was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease shortly after the birth of her second child, Declan, in December 2010.
The 28-year-old suffered for months with severe diarrhoea and the passing of blood, but doctors linked her symptoms to her pregnancy.
In September last year, however, she was rushed into emergency surgery to remove her colon and rectal stump and was fitted with a permanent stoma bag.
Now Gemma is looking to set up a support group with her friends, Amy Robson, 20, of York, Megan Price, 20, of Manchester and Donna Mear, 32, of North Shields, who have all been effected by Crohn’s Disease and ulcerative colitis.
The group aim to hold meetings and help support people living with permanent and temporary stoma bags, as well as raise awareness of Crohn’s disease.
Gemma, a former receptionist, said: “I want to make people aware of this disease and stoma bags.
“There is a taboo about them.
“It’s to let people know that having a stoma bag is not necessarily a bad thing.
“It is not marking the end of something, it’s about getting your life back and once you’re healed you can go out and do what everyone is doing.”
Gemma is now recovering at home with her husband Marty, 33, and her sons, three-year-old Elliott and one-year-old Declan.
Gemma said: “I was absolutely terrified and angry when I was diagnosed, I just thought, why me?”
“But now I’m drug free and on the mend.
“I am not ashamed to have a stoma bag.
“I would rather have it than not be here at all.”
For more information or to join the group, email Gemma at firstname.lastname@example.org