Image via Instagram/samcleasby.
Sam Cleasby, 33, is a UK-based blogger, photographer and activist who started sobadass.me – an online journal where she documents a tumultuous journey living with ulcerative colitis (which symptoms include inflammation occurring in the rectum and lower colon).
Millions have flocked to her site curious about this woman’s mission to demystify the illness that almost took her life.
“I started the blog as a way to journal my illness, surgery and recovery,” says Sam Cleasby.
“I quickly realised that people were interested in my story and so I began to blog about more than just my doctors appointments. I write about chronic illness, self esteem, body image and general lifestyle pieces,” says Cleasby.
She wears a colostomy bag and poses with it, and her various scars from surgery, on her site – in fact look twice and you’ll miss the bag because she’s preened like a pin-up and lying on a couch looking unpretentious and beautiful.
Add to this a dose of toilet humour (as only she can from her personal experience) and you’ve got a self-help and esteem building site that has become more popular than she ever anticipated.
She’s already up to two million views worldwide and has started writing her first book.
Cleasby’s health scare began in July 2003 when she was pregnant with her daughter and began experiencing renal bleeding. She assumed it was part of the pregnancy and didn’t look into it. Six months later she collapsed and was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis.
“I had 10 years of treatment and medication until 2013 when the medication stopped working,” says Cleasby of trying to navigate her way to good health with the use of steroids.
“I was told to have an operation called a subtotal colectomy and ileostomy - this is when the large intestine is removed and the small intestine is brought out through a surgically made hole in your stomach,” she says.
“I had to wear an ileostomy bag to catch the poo for months before having further surgery to connect my small intestine to my anus,” says Cleasby.
Instead of wallow in self-pity (ok, that did happen for a while, she is human after all), Cleasby decided to take control of her situation, write about it and educate others who might be in a similar position.