Brave Exeter mum christens her stoma bag 'Poui Vitton'

Amy Green is taking part in Exeter's Great West Run
-Credit: (Image: Amy Green)

A brave and inspirational Exeter mum-of-three who was diagnosed with stage 3 bowel cancer at the age of 38 - despite being previously told she was cancer free - has christened her stoma bag 'Poui Vitton' in a bid to come to terms with it becoming a permanent part of her life. Amy Green, who was diagnosed with cancer in 2022, is awaiting a follow-up scan next month and to take her mind off it, she has been training for half-marathon the Great West Run which is taking place in Exeter today, May 26.

Amy is also taking part to prove to herself that she can do it, to raise awareness of life with a stoma and to raise as much as she can as for local cancer charity FORCE (Friends of the Oncology and Radiotherapy Centre, Exeter) to give something back for all the support she has received.

Recalling the devasting way she found out she had cancer, Amy said: “I was in shock as I’d originally been told it wasn’t cancer. I went in for one operation and when I woke up, I was told it was a tumour.

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"The hardest bit was having to tell the children. They were 16, 14 and nine at the time and they were able to understand and ask lots of questions. I didn’t hide anything from them."

Amy was fitted with a stoma bag which she nicknamed Poui Vitton – a play on Louis Vuitton to reflect her love of designer handbags. She admits it was a struggle to come to terms with the stoma, even though she was told it could be reversible.

She said: “I was struggling and trying to get my head around the stoma bag. It was awful. I thought I would never be able to wear a bikini again or do exercise. I thought it would hold me back.”

After a gruelling regime of chemotherapy and radiotherapy that led to pain 'as severe as the contractions in childbirth' the signs were hopeful but in April 2023, scans revealed the cancer was back and the only option was extensive surgery. It also meant being left with a stoma bag for life.

Last July, Amy underwent a seven-hour operation that involved taking muscles from her legs to rebuild her pelvic floors. Surgery was successful but there was another brutal round of treatment.

Throughout her treatment, she has been supported by FORCE and has visited its Support Centre for massage, reflexology, acupuncture and counselling.

Amy Green with her husband and children
Amy Green with her husband and children -Credit:Amy Green

Amy said: “Paul (FORCE oncology support specialist) and I really hit it off. I felt so at ease every time I came. I could talk about whatever I wanted. I felt good afterwards.

“I was in control going through treatment. My husband and children had no control and they were struggling. That was my main concern. It was nice to come here and be able to open up. It helped me deal with some real issues.

"You feel like a burden to your family when you’re down. The cancer has a lasting effect and it’s not just me going through it and that’s really hard.

“My family are my biggest supporters and they have got me through the toughest of times, especially my husband Dan. He really is my hero.

"We have been together 24 years and we’re best friends. This diagnosis really tested that in sickness and in health vow! He was fine but it was good to be able to talk to someone else when I needed to.”

Entering the Great West Run gave Amy, a finance director at the engineering business she runs with her husband, a focus and has helped take her mind off the next scan in June. She is also keen to advocate for people with a stoma.

She said: “I’m grateful that I can run and every time I do it’s to say thank you to my body and legs. I’m alive and I don’t take anything for granted any more. I really do live life to the full.

“When I got my head around the stoma I thought, you can let this defeat you or you can do the things you want to. I’m not going to let it control, define or defeat me. That’s always been my mindset.

“I will be eternally grateful to FORCE for their compassion and kindness. Every single member of staff has helped me get through the most traumatic time. Now it’s time for me to give something back to this amazing charity."

A record-breaking 300 runners have signed up for Team FORCE at this year’s Great West Run. The charity is on course to raise £50,000 from Exeter’s annual half marathon. The money will make a significant impact on FORCE's support for local cancer patients and their families.

FORCE events fundraiser Chloe Richardson said: “Thank you to Amy for sharing her story and proving to herself and others that life can be full of possibilities after cancer. She, along with our 300 runners, are an inspiration to us all, running for many personal reasons but all supporting your local cancer charity.

“Team FORCE is the biggest ever to take part in the Great West Run and I am overwhelmed by the number of people who have signed up to run for us on May 26. The money they raise means we can continue to provide all those vital services to people right here in Devon. We cannot thank them enough.”

To donate to Amy’s fundraiser, please click here.