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I’m 37 and just figured out what I want to be when I grow up!

We ask kids all the time what do they want to be when they grow up, they may answer astronaut or doctor or teacher and some of they may mean it! We ask again when they’re about to choose their GCSE options, the lucky ones will have an aim and know which road they’re heading down.

But for so many of us, we have no clue! Or we have a million ideas but struggle to know which one is right.

When I was younger I wanted to be a midwife though my dream was to be a writer but I didn’t think someone like me could ever do that. I didn’t feel very suppported in making decisions and certainly university was never suggested as an option for me.

I worked for a telesales company, in a bingo hall, in a restaurant and a clothes shop but I was living in and out of the family home, on friends sofas, with my sisters, my aunty, in a shared house and a brief stint in a terrifying flat alone and so life was tough. I started a-levels twice but honestly, it was tough to concentrate on studies when I was working and had zero money and often was just fucking hungry!

I met Timm and then two years later we had our first baby together, for the first time I felt settled and like I had achieved something (even though I was judged for being a mum at 19). I stopped working to be a stay at home mum and then we had Eli two years later and Thom two years after that.

baby hendersons hendos sheffield

I absolutely adored being a stay at home mum and though sometimes it was tough, I revelled in it and I was damn good at it! When Thom was 2 I decided to train as a masseuse, odd choice maybe but I went with it and really enjoyed it. I worked in a salon and also at festivals providing massage for the bands and singers backstage. I had an absolute blast doing this but I knew it wasn’t my forever job.

I then trained as a doula which was amazing and also worked as a breast feeding support worker. This was such a brilliant and special time and I really loved it. Unfortunately I started with a flare up of Ulcerative Colitis and couldn’t get it under control. I found it very tough to carry on working whilst basically shitting myself a few times a day. Work wasn’t supportive and told me I needed to manage my time better…

In 2010 Timm decided to stop touring, he was a tour manager for arctic monkeys but was away for 9-10 months a year and life was pretty tough. He wanted to go back to his former love of photography and so we set up Timm Cleasby Photography and I worked with him on the marketing side of the business. I took my love of working with babies and even did a few baby photo shoots of my own.

Then everything went tits up in 2013 when I started with the worst flare up of Colitis I’d ever had. After 9 months of medication and being in and out of hospital I had surgery to remove my large intestine and got my first stoma.

stoma ostomy ileostomy colostomy ibd ulcerative colitis photo shoot

I started this blog because there were no uk based bloggers talking about it and after going on a marketing course by KeepYourFork I got the invaluable advice from Faye to write what I knew. It was never meant to be a business and I was totally shocked at how it took off. This filled my time whilst I was too ill to work and obviously I still adore it! I was approached by an agent who asked if I wanted to write a book and I felt like my dream to be a writer was coming true! Unfortunately it didn’t come off ( though I still want to make it happen!) but I did start writing for the Metro and magazines.

In 2015 I started working for Scope and I’m still there, I love my job, I feel like I get to make a difference every day and they are an amazing charity to work for. It’s perfect for me as I work from home and they not only accept my impairment and the effects of multiple surgeries but they embrace it.

Then earlier this year completely out of the blue I got a phone call that changed my life. BBC Radio Sheffield asked if I’d be interested in auditioning as a presenter and I leapt at the opportunity.

Nowt so strange as folk BBC Sheffield

I started my show with my cohost Leesh earlier this year called NowtSoStrangeAsFolk. It was terrifying at first! Not so much the talking but the technical side, I really doubted my abilities and wondered if I’d made a big mistake. But as I settled into it, it dawned on me. This is what I’m meant to do.

I cant even explain how amazing it feels, I adore it!!! I feel completely at home on the air and I’ve never felt so right, so comfortable, so me. I’m always doubting myself, I always think someone is going to tap me on the shoulder and tell me I’m a fraud, that I’m not good enough. But presenting makes me so happy, comfortable and just right!

And at the grand age of 37, I finally feel like I know what I want to be when I grow up. Presenting is where I feel I should be, it suits me, it feels right and good and I’m starting to believe that I’m worthy.

I would still love to write a book and my blog will always be my baby and something that has my heart. But presenting for the BBC has given me the confidence to actually believe in myself and to dare to think that I can be successful in this.

Whatever your age, whatever your background, know you can make it happen. Believe in yourself and keep pushing, keep trying, keep moving forward. And if you don’t know what you want to do then try different things, you never know where every opportunity will take you.

I hope you’re enjoying the show, I’d love to know what you think so do let me know.

✌🏽 & ❤️

Sam xxx

I’m on the Disability Power 100 List!

I can’t explain how honoured I feel to be recognised on the Shaw Trust Power 100 list 2018. You can read more here http://www.disabilitypower100.com

The Shaw Trust Power List is an annual publication of the 100 most influential disabled people in the UK. Since its inception four years ago, the publication has gone from strength to strength. Over the years it has allowed Shaw Trust to encourage businesses, employers and other organisations to reflect on opportunities available for disabled people. The list plays a vital role in providing much needed encouragement to the young and talented leaders of tomorrow, allowing them to see that aspiration and ambition can be fulfilled regardless of disability or impairment.

I don’t do any of the blogging, speaking or activism for recognition but to help others. I remember how isolating and lonely it was when I was diagnosed and going through surgeries and treatment and all I ever wanted was to help anyone else feeling like this.

During my darkest times, blogging has helped me to find some light, knowing that I could use my experiences to help others got me through and I am so proud to have been able to support so many people over the past five years.

Disability power list 100 2018

Thank you to every person who has taken the time to read my blog, share it or reach out to me, it’s genuinely an honour and a blessing to be a part of your lives.

A very wise woman once told me that every person has a story and if you are privileged to hear those stories then be grateful and humble that you have that opportunity. And that’s how I feel every time I get a message from a reader.

Life can be short, scary and sometimes it sucks but count your blessings and try to use your time to bring goodness and kindness into the lives of the people around you.

Money, fame, accolade, they’re nice but what is important is love, caring and kindness. It’s what holds the world together.

Thank you so much for being part of my journey.

✌🏽& ❤️

Sam xxx

Nowt So Strange As Folk – BBC Sheffield

So I am a few weeks into my new role as radio presenter on BBC Radio Sheffield, have you heard the show yet?

You can find us at Nowt So Strange As Folk – a modern family life show where we talk about everything from parenting to dating, local community groups to disability and so much more with myself and the lovely Leesh, my amazing co-host.  It’s all about relaxed laid back chat, lots of laughs, amazing guests and a sprinkling of music to fill your evening.

You can hear us between 7 and 9pm every Wednesday (apart from the odd week when football is on) and I would love to hear what you think!

 

Sam Cleasby and Leesh Desouzay Nowt so strange as folk on bbc radio sheffield

I am absolutely LOVING it, I have been a guest on radio shows for years now, so I knew I could chat on air but presenting is a whole different ball game! I was nervous about the technical side as well as the skills of presenting live on air, interviewing guests, getting in and out of links etc but BBC Sheffield have totally take us under their wing and given us so much support, training and encouragement.  Our amazing producer Chloe has looked after us and guided us into having the confidence to be ourselves, she is awesome, and producer David has been a rock!

Sam and Leesh bbc radio sheffield

I think it’s really brave of BBC Sheffield to try something so new, each evening we have new talent, presenters who have been given an opportunity to do something different. Monday nights is Monday Night Social – group chat with some brilliant presenters and guests including our wonderful Lord Mayor Magid Magid.  Tuesday is New Traditions with Gregg Russell – a new look at folk music from around the world. Throwback Thursday with Christian Carlisle is next sharing brilliant music and talking to musicians and artists. And then Hello Friday welcomes in the weekend with music and fun.

Sam Cleasby bbc radio presenter

You can find Nowt So Strange As Folk on twitter and instagram – do get in touch and let us know what you think of the show, we love hearing your messages and will read out as many as possible!

Find all our show on the iplayer here and listen live Wednesdays 7-9pm!

 

Sam x

 

Matron, Medicine and Me – 70 years of the NHS

I was thrilled to be interviewed for the BBC’s Matron, Medicine and Me which was aired recently.  The episode I was on was hosted by Fern Britton who went back to the hospital that saved her life from sepsis a few years ago, there were lots of amazing stories shared about the NHS and if you’d like to watch it again, head over to the iplayer here.

You can see my interview here.

 

Love Sam xx

Happy 5th Birthday SoBadAss!!

I can’t believe it has been five whole years since my little blog came to life and I am so proud of all I have been able to do in this time.  I began the blog as a diary for myself, a cathartic space for me to blurt out all that was going on in my life, I thought that perhaps my sister and friends may read it, but I never thought I would be sat here with over 3 million views!!

In 2013, I started with a flare up that just wouldn’t shift and for the first time, the options of surgery were mentioned. I started to google and though I found lots of medical information, I couldn’t find any UK based bloggers who were talking about Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Ulcerative Colitis or life with an ostomy bag.  There was one amazing American blogger called Inflamed and Untamed and her blog normalised this brand new life that I was facing, but there was a lot that didn’t feel very relevant to me as a Brit.

sam cleasby ileostomy colostomy bag blogger body positive so bad ass

And so So Bad Ass came to life.  A place for people to read about my experiences in the hope that they wouldn’t feel quite so alone if they were in a similar situation.

Five years, over 3 million views, TV appearances, magazine and newspaper articles, radio shows and talks all over the world, I can’t believe that I have been honoured enough to take the mantle and to become the poo lady!! I am so happy to have had such amazing opportunities and all of them came from this little part of the internet.

My first ever post on here was this picture… I am really pleased that my first message is still my strongest message, that kindness is at the root of all good things and that we all need to look after each other a lot more.

ibd ulcerative colitis and crohns

My first proper personal post was called Why Im choosing to have my bowel removed, a post about the options I was facing and my (probably somewhat naive) feelings about it all. Little did I know that this planned conversation with my consultant would never happen as within weeks, my flare up landed me in hospital for a week on IV steroids trying to relieve the symptoms and then I would face emergency surgery to remove my colon and get my first stoma, spend time in the HDU and then come to terms with the reality of life with an ostomy!

Five years and seven operations later, I have shared my story with you all, the highs and lows, the good times and the terribly shitty ones and I want to thank every one of you who reads, shares, likes and comments on this blog and my social media.  I can’t explain how much it means.

I get hundreds of messages every month and I do my best to reply to each and every one, to know that people trust me with their stories and want to share with me means everything.  To know that people all over the world think of me and send me their love brings me strength every time.  I just can’t thank you all enough.

sam cleasby ulcerative colitis ibd ileostomy surgery

From then…

Sam Cleasby surgery blogger

To now…

Life has changed so much in this time, highlights have been going on This Morning with Holly and Phil, going viral with the open letter, going on BBC breakfast, TWICE, going to the houses of parliament, doing talks in Edinburgh, Barcelona and many other places and co hosting an event with Ian Harding! It led me to work for the Metro and to so many unbelievable opportunities and experiences including my job at Scope and it developed my absolute joy and love of radio.

But more than any of those things, I just feel so honoured that I have been able to talk to so many people, to help and support, to give strength, honesty and hope. Every single message means the world, I don’t take this role lightly, I feel blessed to have this space and to have a voice and I hope I will always use it to help others and spread a bit of kindness.

Sam Cleasby Timm Cleasby

Thank you to Timm, who always believed in me and helps me so much with the blog, he takes care of all the techy side of things, takes photos and is always there to bounce ideas off.  He also doesn’t mind that I share so much of our life with the whole world! He is my rock and I don’t think I would have managed five years without him.

And so today I just want to celebrate this blog that came from such humble beginnings and has grown more than I ever thought possible.  As I said, five years ago I couldn’t find one single UK based IBD blog and so I started my own, now there are hundreds if not thousands and I am chuffed that someone heading into ostomy surgery in 2018 won’t face the isolation and feelings of being totally alone as I did in 2013.  They will be able to find so many stories to inspire them, bring them hope and answer their questions.

And that’s all I ever wanted, to bring some understanding around this disease and strip away the fears and taboos around ostomy bags and IBD.  I wanted to be able to hold out a hand to someone and say ‘yes, I understand’, I wanted to share this journey I have been on to give it meaning and a reason! I wanted to help, and I hope I have.

happy birthday blog

 

Happy Birthday So Bad Ass – here’s to the next five years!!!

 

Love Sam xx

On BBC Breakfast talking about Blue Badges

So there has been an announcement that Blue Badge rules are going to be looked at to make it easier for people with an invisible disability to get them.

I think this is great news, and Scope have said it is “A victory for common sense.”

sam cleasby at bbc breakfast blue badges invisible disability

I was invited onto the BBC Breakfast couch on Sunday 21st January to talk about my experiences of the blue badge and why I think it is a good idea.  It was an honour to go on BBC Breakfast again, I was there a couple of years ago talking about accessible toilets and so it was great to be back!

make up room bbc breakfast backstage at bbc breakfast sam cleasby blogger bbc media city

Timm came with me and filmed some of the day and put together a great video, apologies for the quality of the interview itself as we had to use one recorded by a family member off her TV!

Take a look here

 

If you want to have your say then please take part in the Blue Badge consultation, you need to do this before the 18th March.

For more support on this matter, you can head over to the Scope Community and chat with other members about how this will affect you.

You can chat with me about this on my facebook page or on twitter.

 

Sam xx

Crohns and Colitis UK South Yorkshire

I am really proud to be a volunteer for the South Yorkshire group of Crohns and Colitis UK.

We are a small team who all have either Crohns or ulcerative colitis and we raise awareness, raise money and offer support to local people with IBD in our area.

A few weeks ago we had a race night in Hillsborough to raise money and have a great time. We were over the moon to raise over £1000!!

Crohns and Colitis uk South Yorkshire

We were thrilled to get into the Sheffield Star too.

We put on coffee mornings, attend events and put on our own and everyone is welcome.

Our next event is this Saturday at the medical education centre at Northern General hospital in Sheffield from 1-4pm. I will be doing a talk about the emotional and mental health aspects of IBD and there will also be talks by my wonderful surgeon Mr Brown and an IBD nurse.

Everyone is welcome, please do share the event and come along if you can.

 

Sam xx

Connect Magazine – IBD, a partner’s perspective

If you’re a Crohns and Colitis UK member and get the Connect magazine then you may recognise the folk on the cover!

Crohns and Colitis uk connect magazine Sam Cleasby

 

Thanks to the guys at Crohns and Colitis UK for featuring us and for such a lovely feature.

Crohns and Colitis uk connect magazine Sam Cleasby

 

Sam xx

The Ostomistic Life

Earlier this year, I was asked to feature in the quarterly online magazine The Ostomistic Life and I totally forgot to share it with you guys!

Take a look here, I am on pages 12-15.

the ostomistic life sam cleasby ostomy blogger IBD health invisible illness chronic illness magazine

Loose Women!

A few weeks ago, Loose Women (the ITV daytime show) ran a campaign called #MyBodyMyStory after they all posed for an image in their underwear.  It was all about women celebrating their bodies, however we look and so of course, I decided to send in my photo and then hooted with laughter and giddiness when they went and showed it.

 

 

Any excuse to flash my bag, eh?!

 

Love Sam xxx