I planned my inspirational photo shoot long ago, before my stoma surgery
It was my original intention, before I got my stoma, to do a bodybuilding bikini photo shoot to inspire older women. Little did I ever think I would be doing it as a 'Bag Lady' - nor that I would be this old when it came to fruition! I will be 60 this year. My recovery has been long and complicated.
It was a slow journey to getting bikini body ready
When I first started training with weights again I could only lift a 2.5 kg dumbbell – well, it was only one month after I had spent 9 days on a cardiac ward! In fact, there are many things that I have had to train around which hugely restricted my training. Gone are the days when I could knock myself into shape in 3 months!
It got to the point where I’m sure many people who knew me were wondering if I would ever do my photo shoot - me included! Last year brought hiccup after hiccup: a frozen shoulder, a nasty fall and my rib cage being out of alignment after needing a defibrillator.
Finally, the day of my photo shoot arrived
But the day finally dawned. I was so nervous. It felt daunting doing a photo shoot at my age, let alone with my stoma bag. The lovely Tiffany from SecuriCare, who takes care of me, found me the smallest stoma cap to wear so that I could do my “now you see it, now you don’t” shots. Then there were the shots in honour of those who fought alongside my husband (who died in the Falklands) in the Class of 82. Wearing my husband’s original beret, sporting a bikini in his battalion colours and carrying a replica self-loading rifle, it was my intention to get it right and we raised some money for charity at the same time.
Half way through shooting, I gave the photographer, my friend Kema, a huge hug and thanked him as I couldn’t have done this without him. When I did sports modelling, years ago, it was easy to be confident with the ‘perfect' body. This time, it was terrifying!
Raising awareness of invisible illness
The last section of the photo shoot was meant to capture photos to raise awareness of invisible illness – such as having an ostomy! I’m a great supporter of awareness campaigns such as #GetYourBellyOut and, with 1 in 500 people in this country having a stoma, we definitely need to do all we can to educate more people.
What’s next for me now that I’ve achieved this long-planned milestone? All I’m saying for now is “watch this space”: this won’t be my last photo shoot!