What's a stoma bag? Adele Roberts breaks World Record finishing London Marathon with one

Adele Roberts has completed the London Marathon wearing a stoma. (PA)
Adele Roberts, who was diagnosed with stage two bowel cancer in October 2021, has completed the London Marathon wearing a stoma. (PA)

Adele Roberts has been awarded with a Guinness World Record after becoming the fastest woman to complete the London Marathon with a stoma bag.

The BBC Radio 1 DJ, 44, who began using a stoma bag in 2021 after surgery for bowel cancer, ran the race in three hours 30 minutes and 22 seconds and received her award at the end of the iconic race.

The official Guinness World Record’s Twitter account shared a picture of Roberts with her certificate writing: “Adele Roberts completed the fastest marathon with an ileostomy (female) in 3:30:22.

“Congratulations, Adele!”

Roberts had a tiny replica medal made for her stoma bag, which she has nick-named Audrey. She shared the medal in a video posted on her Instagram story.

“We did it, up yours cancer,” she concluded her video.

Read more: Woman wears bikini to proudly show off her stoma bag and help banish the stigma

In October 2021, Roberts shared she was having treatment for her stage two diagnosis, which included having surgery to remover a tumour.

Her treatment also involved having a stoma bag fitted, which aids in eliminating waste from the body when it cannot be passed through the bowel.

Following the surgery Roberts shared the new addition to her body, lifting up her surgical gown to reveal the grey bag attached to her abdomen.

Since then she has regularly shared details of life with a stoma bag, even appearing on the cover of Women's Health UK with one.

"Being diagnosed with cancer has meant I’ve learned to appreciate my body; be grateful that it works; be grateful they found the tumour in time to remove it and be grateful [that modern medicine means I can] have a stoma," she told Women's Health. "I feel like I love my body more than ever."

Read more: Adele Roberts was having chemo while she was on Bake Off

What is a stoma? (Getty Images)
What is a stoma? (Getty Images)

What is a stoma bag?

A stoma bag, sometimes called a colostomy bag, is a type of pouch used to collect poo. It is attached to a healthy part of the colon during a surgical procedure where a section of bowel is brought out through an incision in your stomach area (abdomen).

What is a stoma?

A stoma is an opening on the abdomen. According to Bowel Cancer UK there are two types of stoma – a colostomy is formed from the large bowel and an ileostomy is formed from the small bowel.

A colostomy is a stoma formed by bringing part of your colon (large bowel) out on to the surface of your abdomen. The waste from a colostomy passes out of the colostomy and is collected in an external pouch (known as a colostomy bag).

An ileostomy is a stoma formed by bringing the end or a loop of the small bowel (ileum) out on to the surface of your abdomen.

The waste passes out of the ileostomy and is collected in an external pouch (known as an ileostomy bag). Ileostomies are often formed during rectal cancer surgery to allow the area to rest and heal after surgery.

Watch: Dame Deborah James' Bowelbabe cancer research fund raises £11.3m

Why you might need a stoma

According to the NHS a stoma may be needed if you cannot pass stools through your anus.

As in Adele Roberts's case this could be the result of an illness, such as bowel cancer, but there are some other reasons a stoma might be needed including an injury or problem with your digestive system.

Other reasons someone may need a stoma could include Crohn's disease, diverticulitis, anal, vaginal or cervical cancer, bowel incontinence or Hirschsprung's disease.

Is a stoma permanent?

A stoma may be temporary and followed by another operation to reverse the colostomy at a later date, or it may be permanent.

Read more: What is bowel cancer? Signs and symptoms as Adele Roberts discusses her treatment

It is possible to continue activities, such as exercising, with a stoma. (Getty Images)
It is possible to continue activities, such as exercising, with a stoma. (Getty Images)

Read more: UK's four most common cancer types – the signs and symptoms to be aware of

Living with a stoma

Having a stoma is a big change to your body, whether it is temporary or permanent, and as a result it can take time to get used to the change.

But with time many people get used to the adjustments and colostomy equipment is discreet and secure, so you should be able to do most of the activities you enjoyed before.

A specialist stoma nurse will be able to offer further support and advice to help you adapt to life with a colostomy.

Where to go for support and further information

Colostomy UK provides support, reassurance and practical advice to anyone who's had, or is about to have, stoma surgery.

Their website has information about products you may find useful, and also provides details of stoma support groups in your area.