I had the opportunity to interview a truly amazing woman a couple of weeks ago. I wanted to get an insight into her ambitions, her strengths and weaknesses. After all, every strong person is made from a battle. After International Women’s Day I thought this would be the best post!
Jasmine Stacey is 26 years old and a strong advocate for IBD, targeting more so women with ostomies. She’s the creator of the Jasmine Stacey Collection if you’ve never heard of it go check it out now. I repeat, go check it out now!! Getting to know Jasmine’s story was truly inspiring and she was more than happy to answer my questions openly and honestly which was really appreciated.
So here’s my interview with Jasmine Stacey.
1) What was your diagnosis? When were you diagnosed and how did it impact you?
I was diagnosed when I was 10 with Crohn’s disease. This was after suffering for almost 2 years with being told that I had IBS. IBS does not = blood in stool galore. So anyone reading this being told that – please insist on a colonoscopy!
At the time I was just relieved to get a diagnosis, after being told that I was “lazy” all the time, knowing there was a cause gave me a sense that I wasn’t going insane.
2) Did you have any particular struggles after getting your stoma (ostomy)?
I had my surgery for my permanent ileostomy when I was 20, I am now 26. It hit me hard. I couldn’t cope with the bag, the fact it was there forever, the scarring and to top it off all the pain I was in after having open surgery. As this gradually started to ease and I noticed that I wasn’t having to run to the toilet every 5 minutes, it dawned on me that this could be a life changer and it has been! I haven’t felt this well in YEARS. The psychological impacts come later in the recovery process once you are all healed physically and it does hit you hard. Family and friends try their best to understand as you’re now healed, surely you are great when actually the psychological hurdle can be longer and harder. Finding people who were in the same position as me was a life saver.
3) What struggles do you face now?
I am extremely lucky that I have been in remission since my surgery. I have had one or two admissions from stomach bugs etc but apart from that my stoma has been the best thing that ever happened to me. I am grateful for it! I haven’t been so great since November 17 and I am having a number of investigations at the moment BUT I hopeful that it is not Crohn’s rearing it’s ugly head again.
4) What is your biggest ambition?
My biggest ambition has always been to create something that makes a difference. Being a nurse, I have always wanted to ‘give’ back to people. So being in the position of moving JSC forward is exciting and I hope the company to grow and grow and help more and more people. A lot of the goal posts I have set myself I have always tried to do. For example; one of the biggest was prove that I could go traveling with my bag. I chose India, much to my specialist dismay but I thought NO, I can do it. So I went for a month over Christmas it was amazing,
5) Let’s talk about your amazing empire! What inspired you to create JSC (Jasmine Stacey Collection)?
I really struggled with my body confidence after surgery, I hated how I looked, I hated everything about the fact it changed my body image. As a type of therapy I decided to start designing something that would make a difference to people but also heal my own scars at the same time.
6) How does it feel to be recognised by BBC Three for your hard work?
AMAZING. I couldn’t quite believe it when they approached me asking to make a mini documentary. I phoned Lydia straight away and asked if she wanted to be a part of it. I still can’t get over that it has been viewed by over 13 million people.
7) Describe your comfiest outfit and comfiest piece of your products?
I have always sworn by high waisted jeans from topshop and a top which is floaty but doesn’t hide my boobs! Teamed with a pair of heels you are ready to rock! I am usually wearing my everyday pants – so that’s the ‘Mesh Highwaist Brief’ from my collection, these are my personal go to everyday briefs. I love them. You just need to feel sexy and comfortable in whatever you wear!
8) If you had one selection of JSC to wear for the rest of your life what would it be and why?
Ooo this is tough! Ahhh, well it would have to be the Royal Blue Collection from Autumn Blues for me! I love this set, it makes me feel amazing, sexy and ready to take on the world.
9) What are you most proud of?
I think I am most proud of actually starting the business. I always had it in my head that I wanted to work for myself, despite a LOT of roadblocks at the start, I kept going and without doing that I wouldn’t have been featured in the BBC nor met some of the most AMAZING people and best of all everyday I am providing confidence to a ton of women!
10) What is your advice to new ostomates?
Take your time to heal, try to acknowledge fully what your body has been through and that you have come out the other side – that is one massive WIN. Take everyday step by step with each hurdle, try to learn from it rather than see it as defeat. Things will get better. I would advise you to surround yourself with positive people, seek to connect with other ostomates and also look further around the subject than the leaflets – as they can leave you feeling quite bleak about the whole thing! Do little things to make you feel good about yourself to try and reconnect with your body, altered body image can have a lot of long term psychological affects which hit AFTER your body has healed physically. You are not a different person. You are a hella lot stronger, resilient and bloody fantastic for going through what you’ve been through. Take it in your stride and don’t be afraid to say it’s not okay once in a while.