Sara Gebert was agonizing for hours about going to the beach that day. It wasn't fear of sunburn or high tide or even sharks, but instead a deeply personal fear of being approached in her bikini.
The bikini that exposed her ileostomy, a G-tube and a J-tube that she needs for her gastroparesis, a disorder that makes her stomach function improperly.
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In a post for TheMighty.com, Gebert wrote, "I’ve had people approach me and call me gross or ask me, 'Are you really going in the pool like that?'"
So when she went on the beach that time and saw a woman coming up to her, she prepared for the absolute worst. After all, every piece of medical equipment was clearly exposed.
But what came next shocked her more than anything she heard before.
"You thanked me for rocking my bikini, told me about how you used to have an ileostomy as well and how you no longer have a large intestine," she wrote of the woman. "You told me I was inspiring."
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To Gebert, that one comment meant the world to her. Because she was struggling with so much more than a simple body image issue. And to hear the stranger's kind words of solidarity made all the difference.
"Thank you for restoring my faith in the good of people," she wrote. "Thank you for allowing me to feel comfortable in my own skin."
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