Lancaster bowel cancer survivor designs ball gown from colostomy bags to raise awareness of ‘taboo’ illness

The ball gown made by Angela Elders out of colostomy bags.
The ball gown made by Angela Elders out of colostomy bags.

A bowel cancer survivor is to show off a ball gown she has made from colostomy bags to highlight the illness.

Angela Elders designed the diamante covered dress to help raise awareness of an illness she says is still seen as taboo.

Angela's daughter Natasha Clements modelling the dress. Photo by Robert Dickinson.

Angela's daughter Natasha Clements modelling the dress. Photo by Robert Dickinson.

“I am always keen to raise awareness of the illness and its symptoms where possible as I feel it is still a cancer that is taboo and not widely campaigned for as some of the other cancers such as breast cancer,” Angela said.

“People are embarrassed to talk about it.

“As part of my recovery I had a stoma which I then had reversed. The more people that are aware and talk about cancer, stomas and colostomy bags, the less people will be embarrassed and the more lives that can be saved.”

The dress will be appearing on the catwalk at Slow Fashion Lancaster, which is being held at the Ashton Hall on Saturday October 19 from 6.30pm.

The ball gown made by Angela Elders out of colostomy bags.

The ball gown made by Angela Elders out of colostomy bags.

“The diamante colostomy bag dress should hopefully raise awareness and get people talking about bowel cancer, making something beautiful out of something that is generally considered ugly or embarrassing,” Angela said.

Angela, who lives in Bolton-le-Sands, was diagnosed with bowel cancer five years ago, after her mum had already fought the disease.

“My mum had bowel cancer and so when I first went to the doctor’s I was told I was imagining it but eventually I was diagnosed too,” she said.

Angela and her mum have both now recovered from the illness, and have regular check-ups.

Angela Elders.

Angela Elders.

While out of work following her treatment, Angela joined The Growing Club, which supports local women and gets them involved in business.

Angela and her daughter Natasha both attended the club’s fashion show last year, which then inspired Angela to come up with her own outfit for this year’s catwalk.

Angela has a fashion degree and has previously worked as a textiles teacher.

“I was trying to make something beautiful out of something ugly,” she said.

“It’s quite a difficult fabric to work with and it took me quite a few days.

“We stuck all the diamonds on but they kept coming off, so my daughter sat and glued them all on again individually.

“My mum was reduced to tears when she saw the finished dress.”

Natasha will be modelling the gown on the catwalk this weekend.

“People’s jaws drop when they realise what the dress is made of,” Angela said.

“I just hope it will help raise awareness of bowel cancer and maybe people won’t be so embarrassed about the idea of colostomy bags.”

The dress is an art piece in its own right and will be available for hire at any cancer awareness or fundraising events.

For more information about the fashion show, or for tickets, go online here