Petrina Barber

Petrina Barber is an advocate for individuals with hidden and visible disabilities and the visionary founder behind the empowering Beyond the Stoma movement. With unwavering dedication, she has committed her life to championing the rights and well-being of those facing health challenges, particularly individuals living with a stoma.

Petrina’s own remarkable journey is a testament to her unyielding strength, resilience, and determination to triumph over adversity, defying the odds

Her battle began eight years ago when her son was only 5 months old. She received the daunting diagnosis of cervical cancer followed by intense chemotherapy, radiation and a series of surgeries. She has not had a stint longer than 11 months out of hospital since her diagnosis. 

Petrina is now cancer-free however the radiation treatment she endured has resulted in radiation disease which is incurable and has damaged all the healthy organs in her pelvic region. She has had to undergo bladder surgery and most recently in January 2023 the removal of her last gynaecological organs and bowel surgery resulting in the formation of a permanent stoma. 

Overcoming tremendous obstacles, Petrina’s recovery process has been marked by setbacks, including ruptured ovarian cysts, kidney failure, ascites and a severe case of sepsis. She has shocked everyone in her medical team by pulling through each blow with incredible grit and determination.  

Whilst for now the surgeries have attempted to slowdown the progress of the disease she continues to have on-going bladder damage, lives with the physical fall out of a loss of pelvic organs and is in chronic pain.

Petrina’s mission is to redefine what it is to live with a stoma. She is passionate about working collaboratively with other stoma havers to share experiences and create a support network that diffuses the fear around having a stoma whilst inspiring and educating people about how to live your best life with a stoma. 

Not only does Petrina inspire others by showcasing that life is not limited while living with a stoma, but she also believes in sharing her daily realities and how she people with a stoma can adapt to change. There is ultimately not one way to live life with a stoma and there are many health situations that lead to having a stoma. She recognises the need for diverse representation and unbiased information for anyone living life with a stoma.

A true believer in the power of physical fitness to support recovery, Petrina emphasises the importance of exercise and carefully tailored gym regimens for post-surgery recovery or individuals with ‘abled body’ limitations. Despite facing much skepticism from surgeons who told her she wouldn’t be able to go to the gym or train, Petrina defied expectations and pursued her own path. Her determination to be strong served as a guiding light through each recovery.  Working closely with a specialist PT, she offers inspiration to others in similar situations, encouraging them to find confidence and reclaim their physical strength.

Fashion represents yet another arena where Petrina aims to effect meaningful change. As a passionate advocate for diversity and inclusivity, she is resolute in her pursuit of greater representation within the fashion industry.

Petrina’s unwavering commitment to body diversity exemplify her mission to break the stigma and fear and misconceptions associated with having a stoma. Petrina shares her story via her official Instagram page. 

She aims for Beyond the Stoma to be a resource that people all over the world can use to improve their quality of life with a stoma.