Tracey Emin has shared a graphic image of her stoma to raise awareness of living with a disability, after undergoing surgery for cancer.
Patients who no longer have the full use of their bladder are fitted with a stoma, which is an opening on the abdomen connected to the urinary system, to allow waste to be diverted out of the body and emptied by hand.
Last year, the 58-year-old artist underwent a series of major surgeries after being diagnosed with an aggressive form of bladder cancer. This included a full hysterectomy, as well as the removal of her urethra, bladder, lymph nodes, and part of her vagina and intestine.
Emin, who has been frank about her experiences following the diagnosis and treatment, often discusses the physical and mental effects of the urostomy bag, which she will need to use for the rest of her life.
Sharing an image of the stoma on Wednesday (20 April), Emin wrote: “This is my stoma. Most people have never seen one. It’s something I’m supposed to hide forever. It’s part of my intestine attached to the outside of my body.
***Graphic image below***
“Without it being there and functioning correctly, I will die,” the British artist continued. “[It’s] live flesh. Fragile and delicate. Surrounded by scar tissue and swollen puffy fatty flesh.
“I have almost total muscle wastage in my core abdomen, stomach. My body will never be the same. To be honest I find wearing the bag quite depressing,” she added. “Nothing cool about carrying a bag of piss around with you. But it’s life.. my life now. Many disabilities can not be seen. But I thought I’d show you mine.”
Many people have shared kind messages on Emin’s post.
Actor and 2021 Turner Prize judge Russell Tovey, who is a noted fan of Emin’s work, wrote: “So much love and admiration for you always.”
Journalist Dylan Jones said: “So powerful, so important, so moving.”
English fashion designer Alice Temperly wrote: “Sending love Tracy, you’re strong and beautiful.”
Eminhas previously discussed the reason why “having a urostomy bag is quite a disadvantage for lots of reasons”.
“It’s something that most people would want to keep a secret,” she told The Guardian last year. “It’s a very private thing because, basically, you’ve got part of your bodily function happening on the outside of your body.
“It leaks and things happen. I could be out somewhere public and it could happen – and people’d just think I’ve pissed myself or think I’ve been drinking.”