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Deborah James hailed ‘inspiration’ after speaking about her cancer

BBC podcast host Deborah James, who has incurable bowel cancer, is hailed an ‘inspiration’ by ‘tearful’ Lorraine viewers as she recalls thinking she ‘wouldn’t get through the night’ after a varicose vein bleed

  • Deborah, 40, spent a month as an in-patient with sepsis at the Royal Marsden
  • Mother ‘thought she wouldn’t get through the night’ after a varicose vein bleed
  • Opened up about spending ’80 per cent of he year’ in hospital in ITV interview 
  • BBC podcast host was praised following the candid chat which aired on Lorraine

Deborah James has been hailed an ‘inspiration’ after she opened up about her battle with incurable bowel cancer on Lorraine.

The BBC podcast host, 40, said on this morning’s show that she ‘doesn’t really know’ how she is alive and that her ‘body is tired’ after spending ‘about 80 per cent of this year in hospital’. 

Deborah, who lives in London, has been living with stage four bowel cancer since she was diagnosed in December 2016, and was told early on that she might not live beyond five years – a milestone that passed in the autumn of 2021. 

The TV interview, which is part of ITV’s ‘No Butts’ campaign, was filmed last month at the Royal Marsden Hospital, where Deborah had spent a month as an in-patient with sepsis. 

Mother-of-two Deborah opened up about feeling ‘fragile’ following a terrifying incident in January, when she ‘thought she wouldn’t get through the night’ after a varicose vein bleed. 

BBC podcast host Deborah James, who has incurable bowel cancer, says she has spent ‘about 80 per cent of this year’ at the Royal Marsden Hospital. She is pictured in hospital in December last year 

In a candid interview with ITV’s Lorraine Kelly, she opened up about feeling ‘fragile’ following a terrifying incident in January, when she ‘thought she wouldn’t get through the night’ after a varicose vein bleed

‘If I’m being honest, I don’t really know how I’m alive,’ she said. ‘This year has been really crazy. I’ve spent about 80 percent of this year in hospital in some capacity. In January, I had a very scary experience where I had a varicose bleed. I thought that was it.

‘I can only now talk about it without crying. In a split second, I went from living to thinking that I wouldn’t get through the night. And none of my family did. My body is tired.’

Viewers were quick to take to social media with praise, with several commenting on how they were inspired Deborah’s positive attitude in the face of her illness, with one branding her ‘one of life’s heroes’. 

‘Already crying at @bowelbabe what an amazing woman. Such an inspiration one’s of life’s heroes. Sending so much love to you and your family’, wrote one viewer. 

Speaking in the interview, filmed last month, Deborah said ‘I don’t really know how I’m alive’ and that her ‘body is tired’ after spending ‘about 80 per cent of this year in hospital’ 

Earlier this week, Deborah updated her Instagram followers in full on her health after more than a month in the hospital as an in-patient with sepsis 

Another said: ‘What an inspiration Deborah is, I’m now gonna update my wardrobe with bright colours. Please pass on my good wishes.’ 

‘This gorgeous woman, Deborah James, is an absolute inspiration. #Lorraine’, said a third. 

When asked by Lorraine, 62, how she was feeling Deborah said: ‘Fragile. I’m wearing makeup and I’ve brushed my hair, which in a weird way is progress, to be honest with you. 

The cancer campaigner admitted she might have ‘underestimated’ the effects of sepsis on the body and said a full recovery can take a ‘really, really long time’. Pictured, Deborah in hospital

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

Family time: Deborah (pictured left) was allowed home to spend Mother’s Day with her family

‘Three weeks ago, I couldn’t get myself out of bed to go to the toilet, I couldn’t stand up.’

THE SYMPTOMS OF BOWEL CANCER 

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.

Speaking of the importance of the No Butts Campaign, Deborah told Lorraine: ‘I have lived with bowel cancer for over five years, which is amazing.  But had my cancer been caught early, I wouldn’t be living on a knife edge. 

‘So for me, the “No Butts” campaign is all about just catching things early, because we know that when cancer is caught early, it’s really curable. We want people to not be embarrassed to talk about everything when it comes to poo.

‘I’m going to get through this and I’m going to do it in a way that I feel positive about it. I find wearing bright colours just makes you feel a little bit better.’

Deborah warned viewers to always get symptoms checked out early, admitting that she wishes she had ‘pushed and pushed’ her doctors six months before her diagnosis.  

‘Trust your gut’, she said. ‘Don’t ever feel like you’re wasting somebody else’s time, especially not a GP’s time. 

‘I wish that I had pushed and pushed and pushed six months earlier. Just got to remember to trust your gut. There’s No Butts about it!’

Earlier this week, Deborah updated her Instagram followers in full on her health after more than a month in the hospital as an in-patient with sepsis. 

She was allowed home from hospital on 8 April and visited the Royal Marsden for daily IV treatment.

But she told her followers that she reacted badly to her oral antibiotics and spent the next five days vomiting with her temperatures spiking.

The mum went back into hospital on 14 April to have some emergency procedures to drain abscesses and infections. 

She added that she was in intensive care over the Easter weekend and since then doctors have been working to get her the right combination of antibiotics for her sepsis. 

Deborah said she is back down to four antibiotics and that doctors are seeking to improve her liver function to get rid of the infection. They have added a new drain from one part of her liver and another new stent.

She added that she has been able to have some ‘day releases’ from hospital. 

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