Cancer-stricken BBC podcaster Deborah James' fundraiser surpasses £3m

£3MILLION and counting: Cancer-stricken BBC podcaster Deborah James’ fundraiser is raking in £1m a DAY for charity – as she plans her last hours ‘on the lawn with my family around me’

  • BBC podcaster Deborah James, 40, set up the fundraiser for Bowelbabe Fund for Cancer Research UK
  • It is now averaging £1million in daily donations, officially surpassing the £3million milestone on Wednesday
  • Ms James earlier revealed that she was preparing for her final hours, saying she wants to die at parents’ home 

The fundraiser set up by cancer-stricken BBC podcaster Deborah James has now surpassed an incredible £3million – as the tragic presenter prepares to spend her final hours on her lawn surrounded by family. 

The 40-year-old announced earlier this week in a heartbreaking message that active treatment for her bowel cancer was stopping and that she was moving to hospice at home care.

The nation has been moved by her tragic story in recent days, with at least £1million in donations now being made every day made on the Bowelbabe Fund for Cancer Research UK page she set up.

Ms James spoke of wanting to die at her parents’ house in Woking, to spare son, Hugo, 14, and daughter, Eloise, 12, from constant reminders in their London home.

She explained how she’d had to break the news to the children, but put her full faith in husband Sebastien Bowen – a London banker she married back in 2008.

The couple briefly split up seven years later and began divorce proceedings, but soon got back together after agreeing to counselling to be on better terms for their children.

Speaking to the Times today, she said: ‘My husband Sebastien has been incredible, he has dropped everything and is with me 24/7. My first thought was [that] I don’t want my children to see me like this. I didn’t think I would be able to speak to them without crying, but I’d love one last cuddle with them.

Deborah James (pictured), 40, announced earlier this week in a heartbreaking message that active treatment for her bowel cancer was stopping and that she was moving to hospice at home care

Deborah James spoke of wanting to die at her parents’ house in Woking, to spare son, Hugo, 14, and daughter, Eloise, 12, from constant reminders in their London home 

The nation has been moved by her tragic story in recent days, with at least £1million in donations now being made every day made on the Bowelbabe Fund for Cancer Research UK page she set up. Today it surpassed £3million (pictured).  

Deborah James explained how she’d had ‘hard conversations’ with the children, but put her full faith in husband Sebastien Bowen – a London banker with whom she has been married more than 13 years

Adele Roberts praised bowel cancer-stricken BBC podcaster Deborah James for raising awareness of the disease in an impassioned post on Wednesday – and also revealed some of the side effects of her own gruelling chemotherapy. 

BBC Radio 1 presenter, 43, Adele announced her own bowel cancer diagnosis in October and has since been sharing her journey on social media. 

Taking to Instagram, Adele thanked Deborah and called her a ‘Wonder Woman’ after the 40-year-old revealed earlier this week she has moved to a hospice for end of life care amid her battle. 

Adele penned: ‘Living with cancer she’s made me realise I need to focus on the things I can control and not the things I can’t. She’s really an incredible woman.

 ‘I’m really thinking of her friends and family and like she’s still helping people. She has done amazing things for people living with cancer ‘

‘I don’t think I have ever seen my husband so emotional; but now he has suddenly realised the enormity of this. I have given him strict instructions: I want him to move on. He’s a handsome man, I’m, like, ‘Don’t be taken for a ride, don’t marry a bimbo, find someone else who can make you laugh like we did [together]’.’ 

The heartbreaking interview also revealed how she will record letters for her children to open after she’s died, including advice for them on how to act on a first date or what to do on their wedding day.

Ms James said she’s been in hospital for months, but since undergoing hospice care, she has been planning her last hours on the lawn with her family and drinking champagne, as staff joked with her: ‘You are dying, you can drink what you like.’

Charities and organisations set to benefit from the fundraising have lined up to thank her for her efforts.

Michelle Mitchell, chief executive at Cancer Research UK said: ‘Since being diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2016, Deborah James has shown an incredible commitment to campaigning, fundraising and raising awareness of cancer.

‘Even in this most challenging time, her determination to raise money and awareness is inspiring and we’re honoured to be supporting Deborah and her family in establishing the Bowelbabe Fund.

‘This fund will raise awareness of cancer alongside funds for clinical trials and research into personalised medicine, with the aim of creating new and kinder treatments for cancer patients and giving them more time with their loved ones.

‘The fund will support the work of Cancer Research UK and those causes she and her family are passionate about, for example Bowel Cancer UK, The Institute of Cancer Research and The Royal Marsden.

‘We’ve been overwhelmed by the support for the Bowelbabe Fund so far, massively exceeding its target within hours. It’s a true testament to how many people’s lives Deborah has touched with her honesty, humour and compassion.’

A spokesperson from The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity added: ‘Deborah is an absolute inspiration to so many people with cancer, and a passionate supporter of The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity. It’s typically selfless of her to spend what precious time she has left fundraising for us, Cancer Research UK and Bowel Cancer UK.

‘The Bowel Babe Fund will, as Deborah has set out, help fund clinical trials and research into personalised medicine for cancer patients and supporting campaigns to raise awareness of bowel cancer. This may include developing new drugs, and new ways of diagnosing cancer at an earlier stage.

‘As well as this fundraising legacy, Deborah’s work over the last five years to raise awareness of the symptoms of bowel cancer and the importance of early diagnosis in improving survival, will have saved and extended countless lives.’

Ms James had earlier spoken of her connection with her family to the BBC, saying they were ‘really loving’ and that she ‘adored’ them.

Ms James told the BBC: ‘I have a really loving family who I adore. Honestly, they’re incredible and all I knew I wanted was to come here and be able to relax knowing that everything was okay.

‘I’ve had some really hard conversations during the last week. You think, ‘Gosh, how can anyone have those conversations?’ and then you find yourself in the middle of them.

‘And people are very nice, but you’re talking about your own death and I’ve had five years to prepare for my death.’

The interviewer told the mother-of-two, ‘I know it’s not easy’, as she struggled to speak around her tears, to which he eventually replied: ‘It’s hard. It’s really hard.

‘The thing that I know, because I trust my husband – he’s just the most wonderful man and so is my family, and I know that my kids are going to be more than looked after and surrounded by love.

‘You always want to know as a mother – are your kids going to be okay? And my kids are going to be fine. But it doesn’t mean I’m not going to miss every chance I could have had with them.’

Remembering her former podcast co-host Rachael Bland, who died of breast cancer in 2018, Ms James told the BBC: ‘ I’m really scared. I don’t know how she could deal with such a ‘this is what I’m going to do’ [approach], I’m petrified.

‘I can’t make a deal with the devil anymore unfortunately. I just feel gutted not to have more life, ‘cos you know me, I love life so much.

‘But I do hope that all of our stories and the podcast and everything we’ve shared over the past few years has saved lives.

‘I just knew that I wanted to ensure I could leave enough money for them to do something meaningful, that would mean that we could fund projects that I myself would have benefited from 5 years ago to give me life.


The former deputy head teacher turned cancer campaigner, 40, who has won plaudits with her BBC 5 Live podcast You, Me and the Big C, previously said she was ‘utterly blown away’ by the generosity of those who had backed the fundraising drive. The mother-of-two, who has been living with stage four bowel cancer since she was diagnosed in December 2016, announced the ‘Bowelbabe Fund’ for Cancer Research yesterday while also revealing she was being moved into hospice at home care

‘Because you just never know do you, when that next breakthrough is going to come, but I know we have the skills and passion in this country to make things happen, but we just need to fund it properly.’

Ms James told host Tony Livesey how she was still making her way through a list of ‘death admin’ she needed to do, but the priority was remaining as comfortable as possible.

‘I can’t walk, I can’t stand, I can’t go to the loo – I can’t do really basic stuff. I’ve been doing a lot of sleeping. Just spending time watching people that I love, to just know that they are okay.

‘The more I tell myself that they are going to be okay, I know they are surrounded by love. I know they are surrounded by support – they will be fine.’

Signing off tearfully in the final episode of her podcast, she told listeners: ‘That’s it from me, I can’t believe it, which is a very sad thing to say. I’m pleased I’ve got to the point where I can say it. We’ll see each other again, somewhere, somehow, dancing. Until then, please, please, just enjoy life because it’s so precious. All I want right now is more time and more life.’

She then joked: ‘And check your poo. I can’t leave on any other word except from check your poo.’

It came after she said she is is preparing to ‘surrender to the inevitable’ and is in end-of-life hospice care surrounded by her family, in a heartfelt ‘final’ newspaper column. Ms James wrote that her body had been left ’emaciated’ by five years of battling bowel cancer. 

Ms James – who has incurable bowel cancer – told the BBC that setting up a fund towards cancer treatments had been something she had always wanted to do. ‘Ultimately, what I really want to happen is I don’t want any other Deborahs to have to go through this,’ she said.

‘We know that when we catch cancer early, we can cure it. We know that much more investment needs to take place in cancer. We know that we have the skills and the passion in the UK to do so. But I just feel that, we still need that reminder, that boost and that money. 

‘And so before I died, the one thing I knew I wanted to do was set up a fund that can continue working on some of the things that gave me life, such as the innovative drug studies, because if it wasn’t for some of the drugs that I was put on early – that gave me two years of extra life and that could be somebody else’s life.’

She said while speaking to the BBC to do the interview, she had found out that the fundraiser had already broken the £1 million milestone. Ms James said in her mind, she had imagined they could raise around a quarter of that. It has since surpassed £3million.

‘I thought that would be enough to fund a couple of projects across charities I wanted to fund. 24 hours to do a million and I’m absolutely mind blown,’ she said. ‘I just cannot thank people enough for their generosity because it just it just means so much to me. 

‘It makes me feel utterly loved. But it makes me feel like we’re all kind of – in at the end together and we all want to make a difference and say you know what? Screw you cancer. We can do better. We can do better for people and we just need to show it who’s boss.’

Earlier today, in a heartfelt ‘final’ newspaper column, the mother-of-two said she is now trying to be ‘comfortable’ at home and attempting to have ‘the best quality death’ that she can, surrounded by her loved ones.

But the former deputy head teacher turned campaigner, who has won praise for sharing the experiences of her cancer battle, today admitted she was ‘scared of dying’.

In an emotion-filled piece in The Sun, she said: ‘I can’t get my head around the idea I won’t see my kids grow up  – that I will no longer be a part of life that I love so much.

The mother-of-two, who has been living with stage four bowel cancer since she was diagnosed in December 2016, announced the ‘Bowelbabe Fund’ for Cancer Research yesterday while also revealing she was being moved into hospice-at-home care. The fundraiser, as of 8am on Tuesday May 10, had raised more than £1million

As of 7am on Wednesday, the Bowelbabe fundraiser had surpassed £2.1 million, thanks its to 130,220 supporters, before climbing to more than £3million by Wednesday evening

In an emotional post shared to Instagram, Deborah said her body ‘was not playing ball’ and she was spending ‘most of the day sleeping’

‘I am not brave – I am not dignified going towards my death – I am simply a scared girl who is doing something she has no choice in but I know I am grateful for the life that I have had.

‘It’s been a crazy whirlwind but I’ve done things that I never thought I could or would do in my life. Hopefully through all the campaigning I may even have saved other people’s lives and most importantly had fun trying my utmost to try and learn to live with cancer.’

Deborah, who was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2016, on Monday made an emotional ‘goodbye’ post on her social media pages. In a heartbreaking Instagram post, she wrote: ‘The message I never wanted to write. We have tried everything, but my body simply isn’t playing ball.  

‘My active care has stopped and I am now moved to hospice at home care, with my incredible family all around me and the focus is on making sure I’m not in pain and spending time with them.

‘Nobody knows how long I’ve got left but I’m not able to walk, I’m sleeping most of the days, and most things I took for granted are pipe dreams. I know we have left no stone unturned. But even with all the innovative cancer drugs in the world or some magic new breakthrough, my body just can’t continue anymore.’

But showing strength in the face of adversity, Deborah, who has stage-four bowel cancer, today followed up her post with a thank you to those who backed her new fundraising campaign.

Alongside her post, Deborah announced the ‘Bowelbabe Fund’ for Cancer Research – originally aiming to raise £250,000. But within hours the total had rocketed beyond that target – and as of 10am today had reached a staggering £1milllion. It currently stands at more than £3 million.

In an Instagram post she said she had been ‘utterly blown away’ by the generosity of those who had backed her fundraising drive. 

She wrote: ‘I never in my wildest dreams thought we’d be waking up to this total 24 hours later. I’m actually crying! 

‘I’m utterly blown away by your generosity over the last 12 hours! To think you have raised over £600,000 for vital research is just filling me with so much love. You are the kindest people. Thank you.’ 

Her latest social media posts comes after tributes poured in for the ‘courageous’ BBC 5 Live podcast host following her heartbreaking ‘goodbye’ message yesterday.

Fans and colleagues were last night celebrating her work raising awareness of bowel cancer and helping ‘break the stigma’ of the ‘Big C’.

Among them was Mr Bland, whose wife Rachael, a BBC News journalist who launched the ‘You, Me and the Big C’ podcast with Deborah and co-host Lauren Mahon in 2018 after he own cancer diagnosis. Mrs Bland succumb to her breast cancer later that year.

In an Instagram post, Mr Bland said: ‘Where to even start… I’ll leave everything I want to say for another time. Just so proud of this wonderful, inspirational woman that I get to call one of my best friends.’ 

Responding to news that Deborah’s fundraiser had reached more than £1million, he added: ‘Do not adjust your sets. Bowelbabe has raised over one million pounds. We are not done there though are we?’

Deborah James’ announcement that she is moving into hospice care in full:

‘The message I never wanted to write. We have tried everything, but my body simply isn’t playing ball. My active care has stopped and I am now moved to hospice at home care, with my incredible family all around me and the focus is on making sure I’m not in pain and spending time with them. 

‘Nobody knows how long I’ve got left but I’m not able to walk, I’m sleeping most of the days, and most things I took for granted are pipe dreams. I know we have left no stone unturned. But even with all the innovative cancer drugs in the world or some magic new breakthrough, my body just can’t continue anymore.

‘In over 5 years of writing about how I thought it would be my final Christmas, how I wouldn’t see my 40th birthday nor see my kids go to secondary school – I never envisaged writing the one where I would actually say goodbye.

‘I think it’s been the rebellious hope in me.

‘But I don’t think anyone can say the last 6 months has exactly been kind! It’s all heartbreaking to be going through but I’m surrounded by so much love that if anything can help me through I hope that will.

‘Bowelbabe Fund

‘I always knew there was one thing I always wanted to do before I died. I have always over the years raised as much awareness and money for the charities that are closest to me. @cr_uk @royalmarsden @bowelcanceruk

‘As a result, the @bowelbabefund is being established and I’d love nothing more than for you to help it flourish. Please visit bowelbabe.org for all the info and to donate (link in Bio).

‘All I ask if you ever read a column, followed my Instagram, listened to the podcast or saw me dressed as a poo for no reason. Please buy me a drink to see me out this world, by donating the cost to @bowelbabefund which will enable us to raise funds for further life saving research into cancer. To give more Deborah’s more time!

‘Right now for me it’s all about taking it a day at a time, step by step and being grateful for another sunrise. My whole family are around me and we will dance through this together, sunbathing and laughing (I’ll cry!!) at every possible moment!

‘You are all incredible, thank you for playing your part in my journey. No regrets.

‘Enjoy life x Deborah’

Meanwhile, her podcast co-host, Lauren Mahon, shared a lengthy tribute on Instagram, saying that hearts have been ‘shattered into thousands of pieces’ by Deborah’s announcement and are simultaneously ‘completely bursting with pride’. 

At the start of the year, Deborah, who shares her children Hugo, 14, and Eloise, 12, with her husband Sebastien, announced she had ‘nearly died’ in hospital, calling it the ‘hardest’ part of her 5-year cancer battle, and was admitted as an in-patient earlier this month.

She was told early on in her diagnosis that she might not live beyond five years — a milestone that passed on Christmas of 2021.

Writing in her Instagram post, she said: ‘Nobody knows how long I’ve got left but I’m not able to walk, I’m sleeping most of the days, and most things I took for granted are pipe dreams. I know we have left no stone unturned.

‘But even with all the innovative cancer drugs in the world or some magic new breakthrough, my body just can’t continue anymore.’

‘In over 5 years of writing about how I thought it would be my final Christmas, how I wouldn’t see my 40th birthday nor see my kids go to secondary school – I never envisaged writing the one where I would actually say goodbye.

‘I think it’s been the rebellious hope in me.’

Tributes to Deborah called her a ‘true inspiration’ and a ‘force to be reckoned with’ when it came to talking about bowel cancer.

Her podcast co-host, Lauren Mahon, shared a lengthy tribute on Instagram, saying that hearts have been ‘shattered into thousands of pieces’ by Deborah’s announcement and are simultaneously ‘completely bursting with pride’.

Ms Mahon said that she is ‘not ready to accept what’s happening right now’ and asked for people to keep Deborah’s parents, siblings and family in their ‘hearts, thoughts and prayers’. 

She also urged people to support the new fundraising campaign, Bowelbabe Fund, for Cancer Research UK. 

Deborah’s fundraising efforts, adding: ‘She did it! Bowelbabe did that. Let’s keep it going. Two mil anyone? Proud doesn’t cut it anymore. It’s awe.’

Today, Good Morning Britain host Susanna Reid also joined in the tributes. Speaking during this morning’s edition of the ITV show, she said: ‘Hugely inspirational and hugely influential. 

‘Raising that amount of money will have an extremely positive effect.’

Health editor Doctor Hilary Jones added: ‘She’s an extraordinary person. She’s always tried to remove the stigma about bowel cancer with good humour. 

‘She’s raised awareness and undoubtedly she’s saved lives. She’s also made it clear that it’s not just older people who get bowel cancer. 

‘She was in her 30s when she was diagnosed. She has fought against all odds. She’s beloved by the nation now.’ 

And Genevieve Edwards, chief executive of the charity Bowel Cancer UK – of which Ms James is a patron – said the number of lives that the podcaster has saved and will continue to save with her awareness and fundraising was ‘nothing short of incredible’.

She told the BBC: ‘We’re all desperately, desperately sad to have this news and our hearts are with Deborah and her family at this time.’

Meanwhile members of the public also paid tribute as part of a wave of social media posts.  Philip Counsell tweeted: ‘Deborah James, as been a complete legend, for raising awareness for Bowel Cancer and raising millions. 

‘I have followed her journey in fighting it five years ago. What as been the overriding theme is absolute stoicism to fighting it. I am so proud of her, and family.’


Co-host Steve Bland, the husband of the late BBC journalist Rachael Bland, who originally started the podcast to document her battle with breast cancer, also paid tribute to Deborah. He said in an Instagram post: ‘Where to even start… I’ll leave everything I want to say for another time. Just so proud of this wonderful, inspirational woman that I get to call one of my best friends.’ Responding to news that Deborah’s fundraiser had reached more than £1million, he added: ‘Do not adjust your sets. Bowelbabe has raised over one million pounds. We are not done there though are we?’





Tributes have poured in for Deborah James, who tonight announced that she is moving into hospice care after living with bowel cancer for the last five years. People have called the mother-of-two ‘brave’ and ‘courageous’ with others saying she has helped break the stigma around the cancer



Tributes have poured in for Deborah James, who tonight announced that she is moving into hospice care after living with bowel cancer for the last five years. Her podcast co-host Lauren Mahon, shared a lengthy tribute on Instagram

Val Hill said in a tweet: ‘Deborah James has been a force to be reckoned with when it came to Bowel Cancer & breaking the stigma associated with this condition. Please donate to this important charity in her name if you can.’

Good Morning Britain’s Susanna Reid fights back tears as she lauds ‘inspirational’ Deborah James 

Susanna Reid fought back tears as she lauded ‘inspirational’ Deborah James during Tuesday’s Good Morning Britain.

The broadcaster, 51, said the podcaster, who has been living with stage four bowel cancer for five years, has made a ‘terrific’ impact, after a JustGiving page raised over £900,000 in the wake of her announcement she’s been moved to hospice care.

On Monday Deborah shared a ‘goodbye’ message with her followers after revealing she had stopped receiving ‘active treatment,’ and as she moves to hospice care ‘no one knows how long she has got left.’

Touching: Susanna Reid fought back tears as she lauded ‘inspirational’ Deborah James during Tuesday’s Good Morning Britain

Revealing Deborah has raised over £900,000 through her JustGiving page for the newly-announced Bowelbabe Fund for Cancer Research UK, Susanna added that she had also contributed to the vast amount.

Fighting back tears she added: ‘Absolutely terrific the impact she is having and we send our love to you.’

Calling Deborah ‘hugely inspirational and hugely influential,’ Susanna added: ‘Raising that amount will have an extremely positive effect.’

Charlotte Hawkins said: ‘Deborah, we salute you,’ while GMB’s medical expert Dr Hilary Jones noted campaigner has ‘undoubtedly saved many lives’ by raising awareness of bowel cancer.

‘She is an extraordinary person. She has always tried to remove the stigma of bowel cancer with humour and good humour,’ he said.

‘She has fought against all odds and exhausted all active treatments. She’s beloved by the nation now, she really has made it fun.’

Lorraine Kelly also fought back tears while admitting she thought that Deborah would ‘bounce back’ despite her cancer diagnosis.

‘She’s amazing, isn’t she? Absolutely astonishing,’ she said, before referring to Deborah’s campaign to raise money for Cancer Research UK.

‘She’ll be absolutely thrilled and overjoyed with that! I thought, as I always do, that she would bounce back… but she’s getting very well looked after by everybody that loves her. So we’ll be talking about that today.’

‘One of the bravest, most courageous people I am ever likely to come across. Someone who made every second count and continues to inspire many thousands of people. Sending much love to you and your lovely family. Thank you for being you,’ tweeted Emma Santer. 

Sarah Mortiboys commented: ‘This is so very sad & upsetting to read. I have followed Deborah James’ cancer journey for years…and now we have reached the final chapter. To celebrate her life & the contribution she continues to make please donate via the link below.’

‘The energy Deborah James has put in to changing the conversation around cancer, chemo & death won’t be forgotten. What an amazing legacy she will leave behind. Lots of love to her family & friends,’ tweeted Ally Farrell. 

Continuing her own Instagram post, Deborah said: ‘ I don’t think anyone can say the last 6 months has exactly been kind! It’s all heartbreaking to be going through but I’m surrounded by so much love that if anything can help me through I hope that will.’

She went on to share news of a ‘Bowelbabe fund’ which is being set up in her name, writing: ‘I always knew there was one thing I always wanted to do before I died.

‘I have always over the years raised as much awareness and money for the charities that are closest to me. @cr_uk @royalmarsden @bowelcanceruk.

‘As a result, the @bowelbabefund is being established and I’d love nothing more than for you to help it flourish. Please visit bowelbabe.org for all the info and to donate (link in Bio).’

It has since raised more than £3million in less than 72 hours after it was launched. It will be spent on funding clinical trials and research into personalised medicine that could result in new treatments for cancer patients, and continued support to raise awareness of cancer. 

Deborah continued in her social media post: ‘All I ask if you ever read a column, followed my Instagram, listened to the podcast or saw me dressed as a poo for no reason. 

‘Please buy me a drink to see me out this world, by donating the cost to @bowelbabefund which will enable us to raise funds for further life saving research into cancer. To give more Deborah’s more time!’

As she finished the post, she wrote: ‘Right now for me it’s all about taking it a day at a time, step by step and being grateful for another sunrise. 

‘My whole family are around me and we will dance through this together, sunbathing and laughing (I’ll cry!!) at every possible moment!

‘You are all incredible, thank you for playing your part in my journey. No regrets. Enjoy life. Deborah.’

It’s been a difficult year so far for the mother-of-two, who spent much of the last six months receiving in-patient treatment in hospital. 

She has spent months recovering after she almost died in January due to a medical emergency. 

In January, she said the ‘trauma’ of nearly dying was still ‘very raw and real’ as she returned home after three weeks in hospital. 

Speaking on her You, Me and the Big C podcast with host Steve Bland, Deborah said: ‘I was in a state, an absolute state. I was flummoxed. I can’t describe it. I just survived something I never thought… I though that was it. I thought I was a gone-er.

‘How do you process that I said my goodbyes I thought that was it, I thought that was the end of my life, how do you stop reliving that trauma? I did not know what to do with myself.

The mother-of-two, who has faced a challenging six months with her cancer treatment, said she felt ‘heartbroken’

The mother-of-two has spent months recovering after she almost died in January due to a medical emergency 

BBC podcast host Deborah James, who has incurable bowel cancer, revealed in April after she was discharged after more than a month in hospital. Pictured, leaving the Royal Marsden Hospital

‘And it’s amazing how you suddenly go back to the things you realise you can do, which is to chat into a microphone or write – whatever your normal coping mechanism are even in a crisis.

‘I’m always somebody that has to have a bit of a purpose so I was like: ‘If I’m going through this I need each and every day to find a purpose’. Obviously the purpose is to live but it also gave me a structure during the day. It gave me something to do (in hospital).

‘I thought I feel so awful, not just physically, but mentally. I thought I knew what rock bottom was. 

‘I thought I knew what tough was and I didn’t. I cracked – there’s no embarrassment in saying that. I hit a new low that I never knew existed.’

Posting on Instagram earlier this year, the mother-of-two spoke of enduring the ‘hardest, most heartbreaking and scariest’ period of her cancer battle in the last week, which has involved three operations and ‘a lot more procedures’ to come. 

She told how her husband watched as doctors fought to save her life after she ‘crashed’ in resuscitation. 

‘A week ago at this time in the evening I nearly died in what was an acute medical emergency,’ she wrote. ‘I’m not ready to discuss what happened yet as the trauma of it all has been incredibly intense – but it’s thanks to an unbelievable team of NHS specialists who worked all through the night and the next day to save me.  

‘I cannot be more grateful. I’m still not out of danger and I have a lot more procedures to deal with. But I’m now out of intensive care. And for the first time felt able to briefly update you.’ 

Deborah, who has incurable bowel cancer, revealed how she ‘nearly died’ in January in an ‘acute medical emergency’. She shared this photo from hospital

Posting on Instagram, the mother-of-two spoke of enduring the ‘hardest, most heartbreaking and scariest’ period of her cancer battle in the last week, which has involved three operations and ‘a lot more procedures’ to come

Sharing a photo of her giving a thumbs up from a hospital bed, she continued: ‘This is me yesterday having just come round from my 3rd operation this week. I have another operation tomorrow.

BOWEL CANCER: THE SYMPTOMS YOU SHOULDN’T IGNORE 

Bowel, or colorectal, cancer affects the large bowel, which is made up of the colon and rectum.

Such tumours usually develop from pre-cancerous growths, called polyps.

Symptoms include:

  • Bleeding from the bottom
  • Blood in stools
  • A change in bowel habits lasting at least three weeks
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Extreme, unexplained tiredness
  • Abdominal pain

Most cases have no clear cause, however, people are more at risk if they: 

  • Are over 50
  • Have a family history of the condition
  • Have a personal history of polyps in their bowel
  • Suffer from inflammatory bowel disease, such as Crohn’s disease
  • Lead an unhealthy lifestyle  

Treatment usually involves surgery, and chemo- and radiotherapy.

More than nine out of 10 people with stage one bowel cancer survive five years or more after their diagnosis.

This drops significantly if it is diagnosed in later stages. 

According to Bowel Cancer UK figures, more than 41,200 people are diagnosed with bowel cancer every year in the UK. 

It affects around 40 per 100,000 adults per year in the US, according to the National Cancer Institute.

‘In 5 years of having stage 4 Cancer – this has been the hardest, most heartbreaking and scariest of them all. I’d always prepared for my death, but I wasn’t prepared for something so blindsiding and traumatic to happen. 

‘I can’t quite believe I’m here to write this. A week ago my whole family was praying I’d pull through the night. I’m getting a lot of help and support to come to terms with the trauma I’ve been through. 

‘My family have been incredible. I don’t know how my husband held it together seeing me crash as an army of doctors stabilised me in resus.’

After thanking followers for their support, she added: ‘Do me a favour and go tell your loved ones how much you love them. To realise in a sudden split moment that you are unlikely to see the next day is utterly heartbreaking. Have no regrets.’ 

Discussing how difficult the last six months have been, James said while she was really happy that the ‘big gun chemo’ she endured has slowed her cancer’s growth, which had been ‘on the march’, it had been an exhausting time. 

In the summer, James was told she had an aggressive new tumour that had wrapped itself around her bile duct – requiring a life-saving stay in hospital – and a stent fitted to stop her liver from failing. 

The stent fitted to stop her liver failing ‘stopped working’ in December. 

She explained to her followers at the time how hopes at having a ‘quick replacement operation’ had turned into a ‘nightmare’. 

She said: ‘I’m now at the mercy of hopefully some super ‘magic medicine miracle’ – but then I always have been, and any chance is a chance right? 

‘All I ever say Is all I want is hope and options.’  

Last year, James shared that her cancer, which has been kept at bay by pioneering treatment, was back again and she was forced to endure a 12th operation.

The West London mother-of-two, a deputy head, was diagnosed ‘late’ with incurable bowel cancer in 2016. She has frequently said that as a vegetarian runner, she was the last person doctors expected to get the disease.

After sharing her experiences on living with the disease on social media, Deborah became known as the ‘Bowel Babe’ and began writing a column for the Sun.

In 2018, Deborah joined Lauren Mahon and Rachael Bland to present the award-winning podcast You, Me and the Big C on Radio 5 Live. 

Bland tragically died of breast cancer on September 5th that year; her husband Steve Bland now co-presents the show.

HOW DEPUTY HEAD TURNED SOCIAL MEDIA STAR HAS TRANSFORMED BOWEL CANCER AWARENESS

In 2018, Deborah (left) joined Lauren Mahon (front) and Rachael Bland (right) to present the award-winning podcast You, Me and the Big C on Radio 5 Live. Bland tragically died of breast cancer on September 5th that year; her husband Steve Bland now co-presents the show

  • In December 2016, the West London mother-of-two, a deputy head, was diagnosed ‘late’ with incurable bowel cancer
  • After sharing her experiences on living with the disease on social media, Deborah became known as the ‘Bowel Babe’ 
  • In 2018, she became one of three presenters on Radio 5 Live’s You, Me and the Big C, which was conceived by her late co-host Rachael Bland 
  • On September 5th 2018, Welsh journalist and presenter Bland, diagnosed with terminal breast cancer, died at the age of 40
  • Deborah and her co-host Lauren Mahon continue to present the show, with Steve Bland, Rachael’s husband, joining the duo
  • On social media and in her column for the Sun newspaper, Deborah has documented the many chemo, radiotherapy sessions and surgery she’s had since

During her treatment, Deborah told followers on Instagram ‘By my general lack of being on here (dancing!), that Things have moved (in the wrong direction) very quickly cancer wise.’ Pictured: Deborah James undergoing a scan at the Royal Marsden Hospital in London

  • In 2019, she had a procedure known as CyberKnife, a highly targeted form of radiotherapy to attack an inoperable lymph node close to her liver
  •  The pandemic’s impact on cancer services saw her campaign for care to continue as normal and, earlier this year, she launched the ITV’s Lorraine’s ‘No Butts’ campaign, raising awareness on bowel cancer symptoms 
  • Since last year, she has been taking new experimental drugs as part of a trial after her oncology team gave her the green light to do so
  • August, Deborah revealed that scans she’s had in recent days have revealed her cancer has gone in the ‘wrong direction very quickly’  
  • She told followers she would be taking a break on social media over the weekend to ‘snuggle’ with her family ahead of more scans
  • The mother-of-two said a new ‘rapidly-growing’ tumour near her liver had wrapped itself around her bowel 
  • On October 1, Deborah celebrates her 40th birthday 
  • By October 18, the mother-of-two told her followers her chemotherapy is working
  • Days later, she was rushed to A&E with ‘spiking 40 degree temperatures’
  • In November, she reveals she is unable to walk for more than 20 minutes and remains ‘very weak’
  • By December, Deborah said she was ‘not sure what her options were’ after her liver stent ‘stopped working’ 
  • In January, she had five operations in 10 days after nearly dying in an acute medical emergency
  • January 25, Deborah returns home from hospital after three weeks 
  • March 14, the mother-of-two is back in hospital as an in-patient after suffering from septic infection
  • In April, she concerned fans with snaps after suffering ‘a rough few days’
  • April 14, the mother-of-two tells fans she has been discharged from hospital but calls the situation ‘very tough’
  • April 27, she tells Lorraine that she has spent ’80 per cent’ of the year in hospital 
  • May 9 – Deborah announces she has moved to hospice care  

 

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