‘It’s something no one ever sees – well now you do’: Tracey Emin, 59, bravely shares video of her stoma as she says ‘blood would pour out of every part of her body during bladder cancer battle
- WARNING GRAPHIC CONTENT
Tracey Emin bravely shared a video of her stoma on Instagram on Monday following her bladder cancer battle.
The artist revealed she received the ‘all clear’ back in September but now has to live with a urostomy bag and the ‘debilitating’ after-effects of the disease which could have killed her.
A stoma is an opening on the abdomen that can be connected to either your digestive or urinary system to allow waste to be diverted out of your body.
Brave: Tracey Emin, 59, bravely shared an Instagram video of her stoma on Monday as she said ‘blood would pour out of every part of her during bladder cancer battle
Tough time! Doctors feared Emin could die when she was diagnosed with an aggressive form of bladder cancer during lockdown – she has now been given the all-clear
It looks like a small, pinkish, circular piece of flesh that is sewn to your body. A pouch is worn over the top, which can either be closed or have an opening at the bottom.
Tracey wrote: ‘About 25 years ago I made a neon that said EVERY PART OF MY BODY IS BLEEDING. At the time I meant it metaphorically. But for the last 7 years it’s been real.
‘Blood would just pour out of holes.. My ears, arse.. c**t.. nose.. gums.
‘It would happen after long flights or if I screamed .. Now it happens because it happens.
Sharing a video, she said: ‘It’s part of my everyday life. Something no one ever sees. Well now you do… ♥️’
‘Every part of my body is bleeding’: Tracey shared this caption alongside the artistic video of her stoma
‘It’s part of my everyday life. Something no one ever sees. Well now you do… ♥️.’
Loose Women star Nadia Sawalha wrote in the comments: ‘I always say to our daughters “Be more Tracey Emin, be brutally honest , care less about what others think and more about what you want to say”. My family and I think you are the nuts !
What is a stoma?
A stoma is an opening on the abdomen connected to the body’s urinary system.
It is fitted in patients to allow waste to be diverted out of the body and emptied externally.
The operation is done on patients who no longer have the full use of their bladder.
A removable pouch known as an urostomy bag attaches to the stoma via a tube.
It collects the urine and needs to be emptied by hand.
Tracey found she had a tumour in her bladder in June 2020 and was suffering with very aggressive squamous cell cancer, which surgeons feared would kill her in months if it spread to her lymph nodes.
She then underwent surgery to remove many of her reproductive organs, parts of her intestines and lymph nodes as well as being fitted with a stoma bag.
Tracey announced she was over two years sober and confessed she missed her removed organs, but declared: ‘There’s so much more to me than a hole’.
In September, she wrote on Instagram: ‘ALL CLEAR. At the hospital about to have my CT scans and see my Surgeon.
‘It doesn’t mater how cool and stoic I am, inside I’m filled with worry. This time because I’m happy, this time because I feel well… I’m scared to say I’m happy. But I am, my life is so much better, I’m stronger and clearer.
‘I’ve been sober for 27 months and each day life becomes more interesting and I find myself caring and taking more interest in everything that’s around me.
‘I have to be honest.. I wish I had my bladder (a good working one that wasn’t riddled with cancer) I don’t give a f*** about my womb or breeding apparatus.
‘But I really miss my vagina, my urethra and those bloody little lymph nodes that kept everything tickity boo..
‘But Today hearing I have the all clear… Makes me very happy and feel good to be alive. There’s so much more to me than a hole.’
Prior to her cancer surgery, Tracey said she stayed up for 24 hours with her solicitor rewriting her will.
She then sent an email to 70 friends breaking the news of her cancer and instructing them: ‘Do not contact me’.
Feeling happy: The artist, 59, wrote this caption when she was given the all-clear back in September
Tough time: Tracey was fitted with a stoma pouch, an opening on the abdomen, to allow urine to be diverted out of the body and disposed of via a urostomy bag
She has been left with a stoma bag as a result of having ‘half my body chopped out’ and is sadly still struggling to paint.
Tracey said in April 2021: ‘I’m not painting because I’m using my willpower to stay alive. That’s what I’m doing.’
Tracey, best known for works such as her unmade bed and the tent Everyone I Have Ever Slept With, added she hoped to return to painting in the future.
‘I never realised how much I wanted to live until I thought I was going to die,’ she said after learning a year ago that doctors had successfully removed all of the cancer.
WHAT IS BLADDER CANCER?
Bladder cancer is caused by a tumour developing in the lining of the bladder or the organ’s muscle.
Around 10,200 new cases are diagnosed in the UK each year and 81,400 people in the US, according to figures.
It is the 10th most common cancer in the UK – but a little more prevalent in the US – and accounts for about three per cent of all cases.
The cancer is more common in men and has a 10-year survival rate of about 50 per cent. Around half of cases are considered preventable.
Symptoms of the disease include blood in the urine, needing to urinate more often or more urgently than normal and pelvic pain.
However, unexpected weight loss and swelling of the legs can also be signs of the killer disease.
Smoking and exposure to chemicals in plastics and paints at work can increase the risk of getting bladder cancer.
Treatment varies depending on how advanced the cancer is, and may include surgery, radiotherapy or chemotherapy.
Source: NHS Choices
But it did not stop Tracey from feeling ‘very happy’, saying last year: ‘I’m doing brilliant, I’m doing so well.
‘I’m so happy and I’m just taking every day as it comes and I’m just so happy to be alive because there was quite a strong expectation that I wasn’t going to make it through Christmas.
‘And I am going to make it to Christmas and the next Christmas and the next one.
‘That’s what I’m aiming for, so I’m feeling really happy and good and I just wish the world would get better. I wish the world would catch up with me on this one.’
Tracey continued: ‘It could’ve been very, very different so I’m so grateful.
‘My surgeon and the team are calling me a miracle woman because I just sort of like jumped up and got back into everything.
‘Maybe at the beginning a little bit too fast… because I was back in bed for a month again. But now I’m balancing things and being more cautious.
‘I want to live forever. I want to do my art, I want to have more exhibitions, there’s things to do… and I had to think ‘I’m not going to be doing it’. I had to come to terms with that.’
Tracey compared her operations to having a child or gender reassignment surgery. She also revealed she had been working on a painting of a malignant lump before doctors discovered the tumour on her bladder.
Tracey is one of the most well-known British artists of her generation, famous for her notorious work My Bed, Tracey’s record of several days spent in bed in the grip of depression.
The bed is unmade and the sheets are stained, while a variety of items such as condoms, contraceptive pills, underwear stained with menstrual blood, money, and cigarette ends are strewn on the floor.
The work was nominated for the Turner prize in 1999 and received a hugely mixed response from the public and press
She was one of the so-called Young British Artists who emerged in the 1990s, along with Damien Hirst and Sarah Lucas.
Highlights of Tracey Emin’s career
1995, Everyone I Have Ever Slept With 1963-95: This piece first brought Tracey Emin to wider fame, both in the art world and among the general public
1999, My Bed: The piece is Emin’s record of several days spent in bed in the grip of depression. The bed is unmade and the sheets are stained. All around are strewn a variety of items such as condoms, contraceptive pills, underwear stained with menstrual blood, money, and cigarette ends. The work was nominated for the Turner prize in 1999 and received a hugely mixed response from the public and press
2001, The Perfect Place to Grow: This work pays homage to the artist’s Turkish Cypriot father who, she says, is a fantastic gardener but a terrible carpenter. It consists of a wooden birdhouse-like structure on wooden stilts
2004, Hate and Power Can be a Terrible Thing: This appliquéd blanket work is a blistering attack Margaret Thatcher, and her participation in the Falklands War of 1982
2011, I Promise To Love You: In the 2000s, Emin began working extensively with neon lighting. These works feature words and phrases in her handwriting. Pictured, 2011’s neon sculpture I Promise To Love You