28-year-old Serin Lisching, from Mentor, Ohio, produced her first stoma bag cover after getting her stoma in 2012. Crohn’s is an incurable inflammatory bowel disease with an unknown cause. Many people who live with inflammatory bowel disease can end up with either an ileostomy or colostomy bag due to things such as perforated bowels. An ileostomy is where the small end of the large bowel is brought out to the abdominal surface, while a colostomy is where the large bowel is pulled to the outside of the surface, with the end being called a stoma. With both of these ostomies, your waste goes through the stoma into a stoma bag. Serin has a colostomy bag. She needed her stoma two years after channeling her mother’s mantra of self-love, and decided not to be embarrased. (Picture: Caters News/Serin Lisching) She was taught to love her body from an early age by mom Erin, who also wore a stoma bag, until her death in 2010 at the age of 45 after battling colorectal cancer. Serin, a part-time restaurant supervisor, said: ‘She was my best friend. She was the one who taught me that this is my body, to be strong, and to love myself. ‘She got me into art at a young age and that’s a big reason why I’m getting so creative with these stoma bags covers. ‘I’m not mad that I have a stoma. I accept it and I appreciate that it’s helping me survive. ‘I try to go outside as much as possible and show them off.’ Her mother is also the reason why Serin aspires to be a nurse. (Picture: Caters News/Serin Lisching) Serin said: ‘I stayed home to take care of her when she started becoming really ill. ‘I enjoyed caring for my mom so much that it inspired me to go to school for nursing.’ Serin is not at all embarrased by her stoma bag, and now creates her own stoma bag covers so that others can feel confident, too. She started making her own designs and says that creating them to help others made her feel even more positive about the stoma. With themes including superheroes, video game characters and Disney, she is proud to show off her stoma in public. ‘I started making them and everyone was telling me that they liked them. Then my friends told me that I should make an Etsy. (Picture: Caters News/Serin Lisching) ‘I want other people to accept their stoma and not think of it as something that is ugly. Serin loves when a customer messages her on Etsy, saying that the cover she made for them impact how they feel about their stoma. She said: ‘I have people messaging me all the time, telling me that the cover I made is causing them to become more accepting of their stoma.’ While Serin’s original intention was to earn income from the sales of the stoma bag covers, she has since learned that there is a deeper meaning behind her hobby. She was getting so much satisfaction out of impacting the lives of her customers that she decided to start making bags for free. Serin said: ‘People would message me saying that they liked my covers and I would reply asking for their address so that I could send them one for free. It’s important to me that people accept their stoma. (Picture: Caters News/Serin Lisching) ‘I get pleasure knowing that I helped someone who goes through the same struggles as me.’ While Serin likes to stay positive, suffering from Crohn’s for the past ten years has delayed her education and dream of becoming a nurse. It also causes a number of complications each day such as nausea, fatigue, vomiting, weight loss and stomach pain after eating.
She is already looking forward to the summer so she can show off her stoma bag covers in public even more. Serin said: ‘In the summer, I like to wear a crop top and really show them off.’ Serin is currently trying to raise money, so that she can be treated at Mayo Clinic in Minnesota.