1. Bodybuilder Blake Beckford was preparing for a competition when he was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis in 2003.
Over the next decade, the father-of-one, who lives in Stratford-upon-Avon, used a variety of different drugs to keep the bowel disease under control.
As a result he gave up his strict training regime of hitting the gym six times a week, reportedly lost two stone (13kg), and was forced to abandon his dream of becoming a fitness model.
According to the South West News Service, another bad flare up at the end of 2012 left him constantly tired and needing the toilet up to 20 times every day.
2. And then, in October of last year, Beckford had an operation at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford in which doctors removed his entire colon, diverting his small intestine through his abdomen and into a colostomy bag.
After he left hospital he was told he would never be able to train again at the level needed to become a model.
3. But Beckford was having none of it and began returning to the gym in January. He now looks fantastic.
The 33-year-old is quoted by SWNS as saying: “I found it hard to tell anyone what I had done – the fact I had this bag on my stomach and what it did. It was strange because I didn’t even want to show my family at first. Because you’ve got something that’s not normal, you want to hide it.
“But over time I realised that this is me, and the operation made me feel like a new person. My energy levels were much better and I could enjoy life more.”
He added: “They [the doctors] said to start lifting weights and training to be a physique model would be very unattainable and unlikely. But I just thought, ‘I am going to go in there and train and built it up and see what happens.’ You know your own body and I just found myself being able to handle it.”
4. “I did my first photo shoot at the end of April, and after that people began asking more about the bag and I was able to talk about it. People found it inspirational, and my confidence grew from the support of my family, friends, and social media.”
Beckford has appeared in Men’s Fitness magazine and will be in Muscle & Fitness later in the year.
He has given up his job as an accounts manager to focus on his modelling career.
5. The inspirational 33-year-old added: “I am determined to show people and society that having a stoma (colostomy bag) doesn’t change who you are.”
“It doesn’t mean you’re not normal. It means you can achieve anything you want to do, you can be attractive, and you can lead a normal life.”