Bethany Townsend’s photo story on Crohn’s and Colitis UK Facebook page goes viral!

07 July 2014

Bethany who has Crohn's Disease, has become an internet sensation after we posted her holiday photo showing her stoma bags. Since then media have been covering her inspirational story worldwide... 


"I've had Crohn's since I was 3 years old but was misdiagnosed until I was 11. Just 4 weeks later I was having 16 inches...

Posted by Crohn's and Colitis UK on Saturday, June 21, 2014

Bethany Townsend decided that she didn’t want her colostomy bags to control her life and she was confident and brave enough to send us a holiday sunbathing snap to our Facebook page that has been seen by an estimated 12 million people – perhaps even more since her story has gained so much media attention. Thousands of our members with Crohn’s Disease or Ulcerative Colitis - and many more supporters - have told us that Bethany is inspirational and that her actions have helped them to shed insecurities of their own.

What Bethany has also achieved is to shine a bright light on two forms of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) - Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis - which are life-long and debilitating conditions for which there is no known cure. Both conditions are more prevalent than Parkinson’s Disease or Multiple Sclerosis, yet are less well-known and so we are extremely thankful to Bethany for telling her story to so many people. It is only through greater awareness that we can help change the way people perceive and treat people with IBD since it is often a sensitive and intimate condition which people living with IBD tend to keep very private.

It is important to recognise that because of the range of symptoms and the treatments available not everyone with IBD will require surgery, an ileostomy or colostomy bag. However, with at least 18,000 new cases being diagnosed every year in the UK alone it is vital that we ensure a greater awareness of the condition and raise significant sums of research money in order to pursue a cure.

Media Coverage

Bethany's photo and story have been covered by media across the world, including the US, Australia, South Africa, Brazil and most of Europe, which has helped raise awareness of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). Below are just a few examples of UK media coverage that Bethany's story has received so far. 

Monday 7 July

Sunday 6 July

Thursday 3 July

Wednesday 2 July

BBC Midlands Today:

ITV Central News:

Tuesday 1 July

Saturday 20 June

The night before, Bethany Townsend submitted this photo accompanied by her 'story' as a private message to our Facebook page.

We posted it on Saturday and it was seen by 1 million people within 4 hours. In the first 24 hours, it had reached over 7 million people.

As of Friday 4 July, the original photo has now been seen over 12 million times, with over 240,000 likes and 19,000 shares.