November 14, 2022

Apples & Pears gets the thumbs up from colostomy bag-wearer Karen

We were delighted to welcome Karen Bucknall to Apples & Pears HQ to model some of our favourite autumn/ winter looks.

Karen is in remission from advanced bowel cancer and wears a colostomy bag which can make clothes shopping quite challenging.

But she is determined not to let this get in the way and a trip to our HQ helped her to step outside her comfort zone and find some showstopping outfits that look great and feel fantastic.

Karen explained: “As someone who is plus size, wears a colostomy bag, has a GG bust and is over 50 I should absolutely still be able to wear nice clothes.

“Wearing a colostomy bag can cause problems when it comes to clothes shopping. I can’t wear certain fabrics, and those I do wear have to have a bit of give or swing. I can’t wear tights as they are just not comfortable so that can mean I don’t often wear dresses.

“When I came to visit Apples & Pears Clothing there were several outfits I would never have considered wearing in the past, like the leopard print dress. But when I put them on they felt so comfortable and you would never have known I was wearing a colostomy bag. It was really good to dress outside my comfort zone and try things that I wouldn’t have worn before – and as a result I found some new favourites!”

This month is the third anniversary of Karen’s bowel cancer surgery and she has been wearing a colostomy bag since.

“Colostomy bags are much more discrete than they used to be. You can even wear them to go swimming or go to the gym. I can still wear skinny jeans or tight trousers with maybe a swing top and nobody has any idea that I’m wearing a colostomy bag,” Karen explained.

Following her cancer surgery, Karen’s balance and general fitness is starting to improve and she is looking forward to returning to the gym. She is especially keen to try out MissFits exercise classes, run by friend of Apples & Pears Becky Scott.

Karen has also been a finalist in the Miss Voluptuous competition for the past two years and she says the experience has had a really positive impact.

“It helped me to find myself again. It made me feel more positive and gain self-confidence and gave me the chance to meet lots of nice girls and become part of a pageant family,” she said.

As well as going through treatment for bowel cancer, Karen is post hysterectomy and is living with a benign brain tumour.

She explained: “My cancer is still in me. They couldn’t remove it all. My oncologist told me that my body will keep on producing tumours which could be cancerous or could be benign. All they can do is control and contain it. There is always a risk it will come back so I have decided to live my best life and to leave a legacy.”

She now works with a number of charities including Macmillan and Brain Tumour Research to help other people who are going through a similar journey to see that there is hope and light at the end of the tunnel.

Despite everything that has happened, Karen’s motto for life is to live, love and shine.

She added: “I really believe you’re not your size, or your age, disability or medical condition. You are you and if you want to wear that leopard print dress or bold red top with tight black glitter trousers then wear it! Be defined by you, not by what society says you should be. Live it up and bling it up!”

To find out more about Karen's cancer journey and ongoing charity work visit her Facebook page.


Karen’s top three outfits 

Paisley dress

Paisley Plus Size Dress

"Love, love, love the colours and print. Very autumnal and festive. It reminds me of Diwali, the Festival of Lights. I felt very comfortable in this lovely dress, which looks great with leggings. This dress came home with me and I can’t wait to wear it. It’s very bold and bright, just like me!” 

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 Leopard print dress

“My sexy Sophia Loren dress - I felt amazing in this dress. I am a firm believer that plus size girls, and women over 50 can still look good in leopard print.  

The pictures highlight that you can still wear a clingy sexy dress with a colostomy bag, and tummy swelling due to having a stoma and post bowel cancer and post hysterectomy with surgical tummy scars.”  

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 Red tunic top

“I love this red top so much it came home with me, and I can’t wait to wear it at Christmas. It looks fab with black trousers. I always feel bright, beautiful and very brave in red.” 


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