BBC podcast host Deborah James, who has incurable bowel cancer, choked back tears today as she thanked everyone who donated to her cancer fundraiser that raised a staggering £1.4 million in less than 24 hours
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Cancer-stricken BBC podcaster Deborah James choked back tears today as she thanked everyone who donated to her cancer fundraiser that raised a staggering £1.4 million in less than 24 hours.

Speaking in an interview, she said learning about the huge number of donations to ‘Bowelbabe Fund for Cancer Research UK’ made her feel ‘utterly loved’ and like everyone is ‘in at the end together’ to make a difference. She said she was ‘absolutely mind blown’ by the figure, and thanked people for their generosity.

Her interview 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. The 40-year-old star of acclaimed podcast ‘You, Me and the Big C’, wrote that her body had been left ’emaciated’ by five years of battling bowel cancer. 

Speaking to the BBC on Tuesday, Ms James – who has incurable bowel cancer – said 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.

‘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.’

BBC podcast host Deborah James, who has incurable bowel cancer, choked back tears today as she thanked everyone who donated to her cancer fundraiser that raised a staggering £1.4 million in less than 24 hours

BBC podcast host Deborah James, who has incurable bowel cancer, choked back tears today as she thanked everyone who donated to her cancer fundraiser that raised a staggering £1.4 million in less than 24 hours

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.

‘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 £1.4million.

Writing in her Sun column, she said: ‘I always knew that there was one thing I wanted to do before I died. I’m actually crying! It’s overwhelming to think we can continue to help fund some really vital projects with this money.’

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.’ 

The mother-of-two, who has been battling cancer for five years, said she was surrounded by her ‘incredible’ family at home (pictured with her children) 

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, 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

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, 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

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

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

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

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

Deborah and her husband Sebastien Bowen in April 2019. The mother-of-two said she had left 'no stone unturned' when it came to her treatment

Deborah and her husband Sebastien Bowen in April 2019. The mother-of-two said she had left ‘no stone unturned’ when it came to her treatment 

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.'

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?'

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

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 £1million in less than 24 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, 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

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

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

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

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 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

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  

 

Deborah James’s bowel cancer battle in her own words: BBC podcaster shared ‘regret’ over not seeking help sooner, told her children ‘I love you forever’ when she almost died at home and only ever wanted ‘hope and options’

By Jessica Green for MailOnline

BBC podcast host Deborah James shared a heartbreaking ‘goodbye’ message last night after moving to hospice at home care with her family.

The former deputy head teacher turned cancer campaigner, 40, from 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. 

At the start of the year, the mother-of-two, who shares her children Hugo, 14, and Eloise, 12, with her husband Sebastien, announced she had ‘nearly died’ in hospital when she ‘thought she wouldn’t get through the night’ after a varicose vein bleed. 

She shared an Instagram post yesterday evening saying ‘nobody knows how long she has left’, writing: ‘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.’

Deborah, who became one of three presenters on Radio 5 Live’s You, Me and the Big C in 2018, continued: ‘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.’

Here, FEMAIL takes a look back at Deborah’s battle with bowel cancer, which she ‘courageously’ documented online… 

December 15 2016: Deborah is diagnosed with bowel cancer

‘If only for once someone believed me earlier that I wasn’t “crying wolf” – when in my normal nervous GP “question time” I tell the doctor I think I have bowel cancer – I’m actually laughed at – not once but three times over the course of six months,’ Deborah wrote for Bowel Cancer UK. 

‘Fed up with waiting for a referral, I’m lucky I was able to take myself off privately to have a colonoscopy.

‘I was blind-sided at 7pm on Thursday 15 December 2016… [and] here I stand after my world turned upside down with the words “you have cancer” thinking at first that it was stage 3 and totally curable “hiccup” in my life, to being faced with the harsh reality of being 35 and having to face stage 4 bowel cancer head on.’

March 20 2019: She pays her first ‘nerve-wracking’ visit to a hospice

Deborah visited the Royal Trinity Hospice, in clips recorded for BBC Breakfast, and said: 'Six months ago I wouldn’t have even had a conversation about going to a a hospice'

Deborah visited the Royal Trinity Hospice, in clips recorded for BBC Breakfast, and said: ‘Six months ago I wouldn’t have even had a conversation about going to a a hospice’ 

Deborah visited the Royal Trinity Hospice, in clips recorded for BBC Breakfast, and said: ‘Six months ago I wouldn’t have even had a conversation about going to a a hospice.

‘I have two young children, aged nine and aged 11… only 8 per cent of people will survive with my type of cancer, so I have to ask myself the question – how will I die and how do I want to die?

‘For me the home is a sacred place that I want to protect for my children and I want them to have these happy memories of home. I don’t want them to remember me dying at home.

‘Anyone who has followed my story will know that the thought of stepping into a hospice was a huge deal for me. Something I didn’t want to even discuss. 

‘But through our podcast I’ve realised that talking about things and facing them head on makes it all a little less scary. So I decided to visit.’

March 28 2019: Her illness is declared stable 

 

'STABLE! It’s the magic words anyone with metastatic cancer wants to hear (minus a miracle!),' she wrote on Instagram (above)

‘STABLE! It’s the magic words anyone with metastatic cancer wants to hear (minus a miracle!),’ she wrote on Instagram (above) 

‘STABLE! It’s the magic words anyone with metastatic cancer wants to hear (minus a miracle!),’ she wrote on Instagram. 

‘This week I’ve been under going a series of tests (think scan anxiety at the max) to determine if my new drugs are pulling their weight. And I’m over the moon to say they are!’

Deborah used a driving metaphor to describe how having cancer makes her feel. 

She said: ‘When my cancer is on the march, we are zooming along the motorway in the fast lane – you can’t turn off!’

Continuing the analogy, she wrote: ‘Right now we are at a Red light. The engine is off. We don’t know for how long.’

Deborah also revealed that she’s had a difficult time in recent months, saying: ‘I look back at December to February where I was actually very unwell, skin rashes and fevers and I crawled into the @RoyalMarsden to see my oncology team saying I can’t do this. 

‘With the right management, I’ve pulled through to this point (I honestly didn’t think I’d get through February!) and I cannot tell you what hope it gives me. We were about to give up on it! But I’d do it all and then some to have the options I now have!’

January 14 2020: She reveals she’s currently free of cancer – and says doctors have told her she’s ‘rewriting the text book’

Posting a defiant photo of herself on a beach in Mauritius, Deborah wrote on Instagram: 'Ok Cancer - you chose the wrong girl'

Posting a defiant photo of herself on a beach in Mauritius, Deborah wrote on Instagram: ‘Ok Cancer – you chose the wrong girl’ 

 

'3 Years on, 10 operations, too many scans, a lot of chemo, some fancy drugs, lots of tears... I’m still standing - and you (according to my most recent scans!) are still sleeping,' she added in her post, above

‘3 Years on, 10 operations, too many scans, a lot of chemo, some fancy drugs, lots of tears… I’m still standing – and you (according to my most recent scans!) are still sleeping,’ she added in her post, above 

Posting a defiant photo of herself on a beach in Mauritius, Deborah wrote on Instagram:  ‘Ok Cancer – you chose the wrong girl. 

‘3 Years on, 10 operations, too many scans, a lot of chemo, some fancy drugs, lots of tears… I’m still standing – and you (according to my most recent scans!) are still sleeping!

‘In fact, we have cut you out, burnt you, zapped you, ablated you, used radiotherapy, used targeted therapy, used every tool in the book and right now in fact according to my team we are “rewriting the text book!”.

It’s a bit bonkers (and I haven’t honestly processed this for a few reasons), but right now, I have no evidence of cancer in my body!! Which seems  bonkers considering at one stage I had 15 tumours! 

‘And the stats (8% survival at 5 years for metastatic Bowel Cancer) are against us. Yes I’m beyond happy. Have I celebrated. No! (I should!) BUT I’m realistic. Yes I’m in a place I never thought possible. 

‘But I’ve been here once before a few years ago and it was whipped away from me 6 weeks later! So I’m prepared. We all are. I’m still on treatment (tomorrow in fact!). Praying it continues to work. 

‘Being beyond grateful to be here today… still taking it one step at a time. Maybe one day I’ll do slightly larger steps and start looking beyond the next 2 weeks! I hope…in the meantime I’ll just keep “living”.’

February 26 2020: Deborah reveals she had been facing divorce when she received her bombshell diagnosis

Before her diagnosis, Deborah was an ambitious deputy head teacher who’d been brought in to turn around a failing comprehensive in Surrey. She also had two young children to bring up.

It meant she and her banker husband of nearly 12 years, Sebastien, were always stressed and barely saw each other. ‘It was a classic case of our marriage coming last,’ she says.

Sebastien moved out in 2015 and they embarked on an initially ‘acrimonious’ divorce, both hiring lawyers and starting to see other people. Deborah even went on some ‘hideous’ Tinder dates.

They’d already had the decree nisi when they agreed to counselling, not with any hope of a reconciliation, but simply to be on more cordial terms for the children.

Then, to Deborah’s astonishment, the pair began having drinks, then dinner, after the sessions. 

In November 2016, they made ‘a big step’ and got back together, only for Deborah to receive her shock diagnosis soon after.

‘One of the good things about cancer is it makes you reassess your relationship. It’s crunch time. You think: “Do I really want to be with this person?” And if you don’t, then it’s “Bye!” as life really is short.

‘But cancer can also make you realise how special your connection is, and that’s where we are: in a good place,’ she told The Daily Mail. 

May 5 2020: She reveals she’s had to have a new tumour ‘marker’ zapped

Deborah pictured returning after undergoing standard radiotherapy in May 2020

Deborah pictured returning after undergoing standard radiotherapy in May 2020

In May 2020, she revealed she had been undergoing radiotherapy to ‘zap’ new tumour markers – after previous tumours were ‘put to sleep’ last year. 

Deborah said that her treatment had been complicated by lockdown, saying: ‘Cancer in the time of Covid – it’s complicated! Shall we just call this a little blip in the road?! I’ll be spending a bit of time here for the foreseeable future.’

She added that her markers were now normal once more but added: I’m not going to lie – it’s been a worry. Still is a worry as decision aren’t as straight forward in this climate.

‘I’ve just had my first radiotherapy. The first time I’ve had standard radiotherapy. I’m still shaking a little bit. Any new experience is a little bit scary and it’s too early to know what my side effects are.’ 

April 26 2021: She reveals her cancer is back again

Writing in Fabulous, Deborah explained that her cancer was back again, adding: ‘The results aren’t a s*** show. The good news is my liver, lungs, bowel and chest are all clear.

‘But my cancer has a habit of being awkward and it’s thrown me another challenge, a roadblock we need to navigate around.’

She went on to explain that three years ago she underwent a procedure known as CyberKnife – a highly targeted form of radiotherapy which targeted an inoperable lymph node close to her liver. 

The surgery was a success and the cancer became inactive. But while Deborah continued undergoing daily targeted drug therapy to keep the cancer at bay, she told how just as lockdown restrictions in the UK started easing, her cancer ‘wanted in on the party’ and started waking up. 

June 22 2021: She has a stent fitted in her failing liver after revealing she has a ‘rapidly-growing tumour’

'Update! I never liked rollercoasters, but I seem to be riding the hideous cancer one whether I like it or not,' Deborah wrote online, alongside the above picture. 'To cut a long story short, my drugs have stopped working and my liver is failing. But I’ve been given hope.

‘Update! I never liked rollercoasters, but I seem to be riding the hideous cancer one whether I like it or not,’ Deborah wrote online, alongside the above picture. ‘To cut a long story short, my drugs have stopped working and my liver is failing. But I’ve been given hope. 

‘Update! I never liked rollercoasters, but I seem to be riding the hideous cancer one whether I like it or not,’ she wrote online. ‘To cut a long story short, my drugs have stopped working and my liver is failing. But I’ve been given hope.

‘Today I had a stent fitted to my bile duct, in order to hope that my liver can function again and that I can then have more chemo.

‘I was transferred via ambulance to St Helier Hospital to have the procedure by a team of awesome doctors, who managed to get it in how they wanted, and now we just need my liver to play ball! 

‘I can’t actually tell you anything about what happened, because I was given such a wacking dose of sedation, I’m still coming round and recovering and being monitored in hospital.

‘So whilst I feel like I’m back to square one and yes its a pretty scary, I’m taking it one step at a time, grateful to have hope and options. As my oncologist said, don’t write me off yet!’      

Writing in her column in The Sun about the procedure, she said the stent ‘should’ stop her liver from failing and might work for between three to six months.

Revealing scans detected a new ‘rapidly-growing’ tumour, she wrote: ‘If my liver plays ball, I can have chemo again. If that works, it might shrink the tumour enough to stop it obstructing my bile duct.

‘The truth is it never really went away. It went to sleep for a bit, but now it’s back again and this time, my drugs aren’t working.’

July 2021: Her mother ‘nurses her back to life’ for a month after she suffered liver failure and sepsis 

In a tweet, Deborah posted a video as she danced in the garden with her mother Heather James wearing matching outfits

In a tweet, Deborah posted a video as she danced in the garden with her mother Heather James wearing matching outfits

In a tweet, Deborah posted a video as she danced in the garden with her mother Heather James wearing matching outfits

She wrote on Twitter: ‘[Mum] has literally been nursing me back to life for the last month through liver failure and sepsis. #stayingalive.’ 

Posting a clip of her dancing with her mother, she said: ‘Chemo dancing whilst hooked up to life saving drugs is on! This cycle, kids are away, so mum has stepped up!’ 

Performing a brief choreographed routine to Staying Alive, she added: ‘Song couldn’t be more apt! Cancer is still happening!’ 

September 3 2021: She says it feels surreal as she sees her children off to their new secondary schools

Deborah said it felt surreal after she saw her children off to their new secondary schools (pictured)

Deborah said it felt surreal after she saw her children off to their new secondary schools (pictured)

Sharing an image of her and her children from their first day of school in 2021, and another from four years before (pictured), she wrote on Instagram: 'Hope. Like thousands of us - I’m seeing my kids off to their new secondary schools over these last few days.'

Sharing an image of her and her children from their first day of school in 2021, and another from four years before (pictured), she wrote on Instagram: ‘Hope. Like thousands of us – I’m seeing my kids off to their new secondary schools over these last few days.’

'Proud, a little tearful and with sore thumbs from labelling too many things! The emotion coming from this moment is surreal. It’s always been one of those MASSIVE pipe dream milestones I never envisaged I’d actually make,' she added in the post (pictured)

‘Proud, a little tearful and with sore thumbs from labelling too many things! The emotion coming from this moment is surreal. It’s always been one of those MASSIVE pipe dream milestones I never envisaged I’d actually make,’ she added in the post (pictured)

Sharing an image of her and her children from their first day of school in 2021, and another from four years before, she wrote on Instagram: ‘Hope. Like thousands of us – I’m seeing my kids off to their new secondary schools over these last few days. 

‘Proud, a little tearful and with sore thumbs from labelling too many things! The emotion coming from this moment is surreal. It’s always been one of those MASSIVE pipe dream milestones I never envisaged I’d actually make! 

‘Because there wasn’t a statistic that say I would!! I always had hope I would, but recent progressive and hairy cancer moments meant it all seemed too much to dream it even at the start of the summer. 

‘But I’m here – just smiling with unbelievable pride at the children who are my world. Wishing them all the luck in their new adventures as I continue to enjoy the privilege of each day I have being here to see it unfold.

‘The second picture was us 4 years ago. They were half their current size! I was on the same chemo regime I am now, it was my first “back to school with cancer”, having been diagnosed 9 months earlier. I thought it would be my last. 

‘I was too sad, it was all too much, and I look at my eyes now in that picture and see the pain and the heartbreak behind the heaviness of that feeling. I couldn’t stop the tears. 

‘Perhaps you are there today? Perhaps you are me 4 years ago. If you are, I’m sending you love. A lot of it. Have faith in taking things one step at a time. For Today I’m beaming – and you will too. (And yes there will be tears of joy!).’

September 6 2021: She says she regrets not seeking help earlier in ongoing cancer battle

Appearing on BBC News to discuss Girl's Aloud singer Sarah Harding 's death following her terminal cancer diagnosis, Deborah (pictured) urged those at home to go to the doctor if they felt something wasn't right

Appearing on BBC News to discuss Girl’s Aloud singer Sarah Harding ‘s death following her terminal cancer diagnosis, Deborah (pictured) urged those at home to go to the doctor if they felt something wasn’t right 

Appearing on BBC News to discuss Girl’s Aloud singer Sarah Harding’s death following her terminal cancer diagnosis, Deborah urged those at home to go to the doctor if they felt something wasn’t right.

She said: ‘It’s not just breast cancer, it’s knowing our body and understanding the difference between early and late diagnosis.

‘It’s tragic it takes these kind of headlines to remind us that none of us are exempt from the one in two of us who will get cancer in our lifetime.

‘It’s not about scaremongering. It’s about if you’re sat at home right now, you need to know your body and get it checked out sooner rather than later.

‘I live with incurable bowel cancer and I put off my own diagnosis with bowel cancer. You assume at that age you’re too young to be diagnosed. By the time I was, I had late stage bowel cancer.

‘I’m very grateful to be approaching five years, but I know that I’m smashing every statistic to do that.

‘The key message is actually cancer is survivable. More people will survive 10 years after they are diagnosed with cancer than die from it, but that’s because of where we’re moving in terms of catching things early.

‘The first step in doing that is for people sat at home to recognise it has to start with them and we have to come forward.

‘It’s not putting the blame back, I’ve personally beaten myself up about regretting not getting to the GP earlier.

‘But I think if you’re one of those people who is a little bit concerned, it’s knowing, it’s scarily the longer we leave it rather than getting it sorted straight away.’ 

October 1 to October 5 2021: Deborah celebrates her 40th birthday

The BBC podcast presenter shared snaps from her wild 40th birthday party after fearing it was a milestone she would never see (pictured with popstar Sophie Ellis-Bextor who performed at the event)

The BBC podcast presenter shared snaps from her wild 40th birthday party after fearing it was a milestone she would never see (pictured with popstar Sophie Ellis-Bextor who performed at the event) 

Popstar Sophie performed at the birthday event for Deborah in a room decorated with huge gold and white balloons

Popstar Sophie performed at the birthday event for Deborah in a room decorated with huge gold and white balloons

Popstar Sophie performed at the birthday event for Deborah in a room decorated with huge gold and white balloons 

Posting on Instagram, she wrote she had initially planned a ‘low key’ dinner and dance party for her closest friends and family last week, adding: ‘I’m still blown away by reaching 40, but I really wasn’t sure if I’d cope with anything too crazy.

‘But then I didn’t want to regret doing nothing! So at the very last minute I pulled a party out of the bag, and then Sophie Ellis-Bextor put the cherry on the cake by staying true to her word (when we recorded her spinning plates podcast a few months back), and turned up to sing! From her kitchen disco to mine! 

‘Blown away by kindness and love. My aim was to last until midnight and not to vomit or cry! (Achieved!).

‘I was still dancing at 3am, (I can’t recall when I last did that!), and it’s fair to say I haven’t got dressed all day today!

‘I will now be taking it easy! But I’ve concluded I’m not really sure “low key” features in my vocabulary!! Totally worth it!’

October 18 2021: She reveals her chemotherapy is working

'MY CHEMO IS WORKING! Words, I wanted to hear, but didn’t allow myself to think might happen,' she penned online (pictured)

‘MY CHEMO IS WORKING! Words, I wanted to hear, but didn’t allow myself to think might happen,’ she penned online (pictured) 

‘MY CHEMO IS WORKING!  Words, I wanted to hear, but didn’t allow myself to think might happen,’ she penned online.

‘I think I’ve been preparing for the worst actually. I have to say waiting for these scan results has been incredibly hard. In my head I’ve gone to hell and back. 

‘These are the first scans since my previous drugs stopped working, my liver packed up, and I got sepsis.  We started me back on what was my first line “nuclear chemo” and it’s fair to say it’s floored me. 

‘Despite the snippets of smiles and glam dresses I choose to share here (because they are the moments in my day that make me smile), behind closed doors this has been the hardest 3 months since my diagnosis physically (and mentally).’

She revealed doctors have said she was ‘stable’, adding: ‘ Essentially the cancer that was rapidly growing and causing my liver to fail, has been halted at least temporarily.

‘And my lymph nodes are even shrinking! Am I cured? No. Will I ever be – No. Do I still have active cancer – sadly yes. But this buys me more time. At least until my next scan!’

Adding she was ‘on her knees’ after having intensive chemotherapy for years, she said: ‘I’m of course over the moon by this news, and know how close I am to have receiving the other side of the coin. 

‘But it hasn’t really sunk in because I’ve had my head down the loo for the last 3 days due to chemo and been asleep minus the fleeting windows of prancing you might see!’

She finished the post by writing: ‘But cheers to the blessing of another day, another chance, more options, and more life I didn’t think I’d see! One day at a time!’ 

October 20 2021: She is rushed to A&E with ‘spiking 40 degree temperatures’

Deborah revealed how she was rushed to A&E after experiencing 'spiking 40 degree temperatures' in October (pictured)

Deborah revealed how she was rushed to A&E after experiencing ‘spiking 40 degree temperatures’ in October (pictured)

‘Not how I want to start a Wednesday! Had to go to A&E, was spiking 40 degree temperatures and was so dehydrated from not being able to keep anything in me,’ she wrote on Instagram.

‘Have spent the last 8 hours being pumped full of antibiotics and fluids – lots of fluids! Feeling better already! Hope this is a fly by visit!’

November 2021: She reveals she is unable to walk for more than 20 minutes and remains ‘very weak’

Posting a snap on Instagram as she visited Kew Gardens, Deborah revealed she had used a wheelchair to navigate the park

Posting a snap on Instagram as she visited Kew Gardens, Deborah revealed she had used a wheelchair to navigate the park 

She said in her post (pictured): 'Standing here at Kew Gardens to see in another festive time, is always a privilege'

She said in her post (pictured): ‘Standing here at Kew Gardens to see in another festive time, is always a privilege’

Posting a snap on Instagram as she visited Kew Gardens, Deborah revealed she had used a wheelchair to navigate the park, adding: ‘There’s always mixed emotions for me. Will I be here next year, reflections on the what ifs etc.’ 

She said: ‘Standing here at Kew Gardens to see in another festive time, is always a privilege. 

‘Got a sneak peek tonight at Christmas at Kew which I attend every year – its utterly wonderful and yet again doesn’t disappoint. Kew is one of my magical places in my life (my husband proposed to me here many years ago).

‘This time last year I struggled because I had only just had my lungs cut open yet again! (All the memories came flooding back!) – but this year however I had to get some help going round the trail and borrowed a wheelchair. 

‘Something I found really difficult to face up to.  I wanted to walk it all and tried at first albeit with a trusty stick, but being honest with myself, having not walked beyond 20 minutes in the last month and still very weak trying to get on top of learning to eat and digest food again, I had to just accept I’m in recovery from a pretty harsh medical setback and I’m doing the best I can. 

‘Just got to keep building, little by little. Bring on the early Christmas magic, because quite frankly the festive vibes are giving me all the smiles at the moment.’ 

December 2021: Deborah admits she was ‘not sure what her options were’ after her liver stent ‘stopped working’  

Deborah (pictured) was told in the summer of 2021 that 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

Deborah (pictured) was told in the summer of 2021 that 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 

Deborah was told in the summer of 2021 that 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. 

However posting on Instagram in December, she said she felt she was ‘on a London hospital tour’, and explained how the stent ‘stopped working’.

She explained having a ‘quick replacement operation’ had turned into a ‘nightmare’, adding: ‘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.’

She wrote online: ‘Plan B bile stent operation wasn’t an option either, so I’m now back to the Marsden asap to look at Plan C! Or D or Z if there is one!

‘Just to clarify – about 6 months ago I needed a bile stent to keep my liver draining.

‘Despite feeling actually the best I have done in a while, we could see this was beginning to stop working (as they often do), but unfortunately what was supposed to be a quick replacement operation turned into a nightmare.

‘Mainly due to cancer changes in that area, meaning it’s no longer straight forward to just get my plumbing working! So I now have no stent, and desperately need some out of the box quick thinking!

‘At about 4pm today I really thought all hope was lost, but luckily a few chats later with my oncologist, and just talking through what pathways we can try is all I need.

‘To be given a realistic glimmer of them is enough to help me keep the faith. So I’m not sure what my next steps look like, but as always it’s one at a time. 

‘It’s all rather ironic that on this same night, five years ago I was desperately wondering how I’d put one foot in front of another when I heard the words “you have cancer”.

‘If there’s one thing I’ve learnt over five years – its that somehow you can keep walking, even when it’s scary, but you must always keep the faith.’

January 2022: She reveals she ‘nearly died’ in an ‘acute medical emergency’ and says it’s been the ‘most heartbreaking and scariest’ part of her 5-year cancer battle

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

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

‘A week ago at this time in the evening I nearly died in what was an acute medical emergency,’ she wrote on Instagram. 

‘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.’

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.

‘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.’

January 24 2022: Deborah returns home from hospital after three weeks 

Deborah revealed on Instagram that she had been discharged as an in-patient after three weeks in hospital (pictured)

Deborah revealed on Instagram that she had been discharged as an in-patient after three weeks in hospital (pictured) 

Taking to Instagram (above), she admitted that it had been 'the scariest period' of her life

Taking to Instagram (above), she admitted that it had been ‘the scariest period’ of her life 

Deborah revealed on Instagram that she had been discharged as an in-patient after three weeks in hospital, and said it had been ‘the scariest period’ of her life, adding: ‘Two and a half weeks ago it was touch and go if I made it through the night. 

‘Today after 18 days across two hospitals I walked down the steps of the @royalmarsden discharged from life as an in-patient. 

‘I’m not out of the woods yet, and I’ll be back in soon, but I’ve reach a point that seemed insurmountable weeks ago. I cried on my last IV treatment today. The trauma of it all is very raw and real. I’m realising I’ve been through a lot. 

‘A lot of everything – seeing my life slip away, being brought back to life, hairy moments, operations, general anaesthesia, antibiotics, pain relief, nervously awaiting blood tests, failured canulars, curve balls, tears.

‘It’s been the scariest time of my life – of my whole families lives. I don’t even know where to begin to thank every single medical person who saved me, who got me through the days, the nights, who did all they can to give me more time. Thank you doesn’t even touch the sides.

‘I’m unsure right now of my next steps, but I have options. And I have to recover first. Get some normality, see the outside world! Eat! 

‘But right now, I’m back home, a place I left not thinking I’d see it again. For that, I feel beyond greatful.’

February 10: Deborah shares on her podcast heartbreaking voice notes recorded in hospital after she almost died last month

Deborah explained on the podcast she recorded the notes five days after the emergency to comfort herself while staying alone at the Marsden due to Covid regulations

Deborah explained on the podcast she recorded the notes five days after the emergency to comfort herself while staying alone at the Marsden due to Covid regulations

She explained on the podcast she recorded the notes five days after the emergency to comfort herself while staying alone at the Marsden due to Covid regulations.

‘I don’t know how to process what’s happened. I am in shock. Every time I close my eyes I cry, I can’t bear to be alone,’ she was heard saying in one of the notes. 

‘The one thing I need is not to be alone however because of Covid, I’m alone and I am scared. The nurses are looking after me but we know my situation.

‘I wake up screaming for help and my fear is that no one is coming to help me. I’m scared to go to sleep because I’m scared I might not wake up.

‘I’m scared to cough, in case I bleed, I’m scared of eating in case I bleed.   I have anxiety, but this is a different level altogether in terms of trauma and I think I know it will get easier, and I know that I got support in place to help me with that.

‘But I think I just wanted to share how traumatically hard it is to go trough trauma. I’m going through it right now and I think in these times where Covid is around as well, it’s even harder because the one thing that you need is the one thing you can’t have.’ 

Starting the podcast, Deborah explained she felt the need to record the notes to make sense of what had been ‘the most traumatic event of my life.’

‘I might help myself get through this very, very dark time,’ she added, saying: ‘You have to hold with me if I start crying at any point. It’s been hard, I have to say.

‘In fact the last week has been the hardest that I ever gone through in five years since my cancer diagnosis,’ she admitted.

The mother-of-two said she’s always known that her cancer would catch up with her, and said that she believed she’d die after running out of treatment options, but had never imagined a dramatic medical emergency would end her live.

She said she started to feel ill around 6pm on Thursday 6 January. ‘I instantly was overcome with wanting to vomit. And this is where my entire life changed in front of me.

‘I unfortunately started hemorrhaging within the next five minutes. I was vomiting large volumes of blood,’ she said, adding she was told she had vomited 1.5l of blood in total.

‘Within 30 seconds I knew that I had to get to a hospital quick and i was losing consciousness, the first thing i did was call my husband who was at the local physiotherapist.;

The mother-of-two’s voice broke as she recalled being discovered by her 12-year-old daughter.

‘My daughter, she came up and found me basically with blood everywhere and I knew that I couldn’t wait event for my husband to come back I knew I needed to get help immediately.

Deborah said she was the most ‘hideous’ experience with a 999 operator who told her there was a 30 minutes delay in ambulances.

‘My husband found me with Eloise screaming down the phone saying “you have to help my mummy” because I was unable to articulate things anymore and the only response that we got was “do you still want an ambulance, there will be 30 minute delay on it. We understand that you are worried but we cant get anybody to you sooner”,’ she recalled.

Writing in her column for The Sun this week, Deborah explained that it felt as though they were ‘leaving her for dead’, and had her husband not been there, she doesn’t think she would be alive.

Eventually, Deborah’s husband drove her to the A&E at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, where she was told she would not have survived if she had waited for an ambulance to arrive.

‘I just thought I’ve got a minute left in me before I go unconscious” and I came down the stair and shouted to my children “I love you, I love you. I love you forever,” and I thought I wouldn’t never see them again,’ she said, with tears in her voice.

During the journey, she somehow managed to give Nico Fotiadis a call, her interventional radiologist who was set and ready to do her operation, lined up for the next day. He made his way over from the Royal Marsden Hospital.

Nico arrived to tell Deborah, along with the lead doctor, to say they believed that either her portal vein had ruptured or her oesophagal varices had haemorrhaged. She later found out the both were true.

The 40-year-old podcaster spent four days in critical care, then two weeks as an in-patient to get back to normal, and get back to her cancer treatment. 

March 14 2022: The mother-of-two is back in hospital as an in-patient after suffering from septic infection

The cancer campaigner shared an Instagram snap from a hospital bed, writing: 'So I'm back in hospital as an in-patient. Not my idea of a fun weekend, but needs must!

The cancer campaigner shared an Instagram snap from a hospital bed, writing: ‘So I’m back in hospital as an in-patient. Not my idea of a fun weekend, but needs must! 

'Basically, to cut a long story short! The infection we've been trying to keep at bay with IV antibiotics - well it didn't work,' she added in another Instagram story (pictured)

‘Basically, to cut a long story short! The infection we’ve been trying to keep at bay with IV antibiotics – well it didn’t work,’ she added in another Instagram story (pictured) 

The cancer campaigner shared an Instagram snap from a hospital bed, writing: ‘So I’m back in hospital as an in-patient. Not my idea of a fun weekend, but needs must!

‘Basically, to cut a long story short! The infection we’ve been trying to keep at bay with IV antibiotics – well it didn’t work!

‘And on Tuesday I became septic with 40 degree fevers and really unwell. But the team at the @royalmarsden have been incredible and I was admitted on Tuesday.

‘Since then we have found out I have a few sources of infection. So yesterday I had my port out. Gutted! Five years this baby has served me well – but right now I need it out to stop an infection – I was actually so sad! Can have another one soon.

‘We also found out that my main source of infection in my liver which we’ve known about – due to the iV antibiotics created an abscess – so it’s been drained for a few days to help it heal faster! But almost immediately improved my infection.’

‘So now I’m on a hardcore set of IV antibiotics – and can now almost text! Where I was so delirious with infection I couldn’t keep my eyes open!

‘The good news is this is fixable and my cancer is stable with the new regime. So just need to get this sorted! Sepsis infections are so scary until under control! I’m now finally not spiking and bloods show everything improving.’

March 28 2022: She reveals she spent Mother’s Day at home with her family after being given ‘day release’ from hospital

Deborah revealed she spent Mother's Day with her family after being given 'day release' from hospital

Deborah revealed she spent Mother’s Day with her family after being given ‘day release’ from hospital

‘Mother’s Day is a rollercoaster for too many for so many reasons, our family included,’ she wrote on Instagram.

‘So without over thinking it, for now, I’m just sooo thankful that the @royalmarsden arranged day release for me this weekend so I could see Hugo perform in a midsummers night dream and that I could spend the day with my whole family (minus Eloise who is surfing that is!). 

‘And I may have walked the further yet when I was was sniffing out the harrods food halls (via the jewellery that it!). I clearly need to use retail therapy to rebuild my strength! 

‘Thanks to my lovely nurses who were all on a mission to ensure I got to these things all safely and be able to navigate my drains under my dresses! 

‘The only problem is, as cared for as I feel here, I didn’t want to come back! This week is all about having some procedures, like restarting my treatment, finishing my IV course for the sepsis, getting my varices rebanded and sorting my drains, and hoping not too much else! 

‘So I know it’s all positive steps towards finally going home, just lots to face first! But at least I’ve have a good boost of “life” to remind me why it’s all worth it!

‘Big love to you, knowing how tough today has been for so many.’

April 1 2022: She concerns fans with snaps after suffering ‘a rough few days’

The mother-of-two revealed she had 'a rough few days' as she underwent a 'good few procedures'

The mother-of-two revealed she had ‘a rough few days’ as she underwent a ‘good few procedures’

Posting a pictured of herself in hospital online, she wrote: ‘I’ve had a rough few days. A good few procedures including treatment, rebanding of my varices, drain changes, dealing with pain, and a million and one other things has really taken it out of me. 

‘I’m just resting up and recovering from it all. Right now this for me Is Bowel cancer. And honestly It’s not fun in the slightest.

‘April is Bowel Cancer Awareness Month. Every 15 minutes somebody is diagnosed with bowel cancer in the UK, that’s nearly 43,000 people each year. And sadly it’s the second largest cancer killer in the UK. 

‘This month I’ll be sharing lots of information on the things you need to be looking for when it comes to all things bowel and guts. 

‘But for now, please join me in sharing your bowel cancer story alongside @bowelcanceruk using the hashtag #thisisbowelcancer

‘Everyone affected by bowel cancer has their own unique story to tell. We can be such a strong and supportive community.  One that helps each other through the good days and the bad days – the rollercoaster that is bowel cancer. 

‘Whether you’re a patient, family member, friend, colleague, healthcare professional or researcher @bowelcanceruk want to bring the varied and many people affected by bowel cancer together this Bowel Cancer Awareness Month to shine a light on your stories and experiences.’ 

April 14 2022: She tells fans she has been discharged from hospital but calls the situation ‘very tough’

‘I’m aware I’ve been quiet on here recently but the last week especially has pushed me to use every ounce of energy to find the strength to get through each day and get home,’ she wrote on Instagram. 

‘I’ve been in hospital for a month and 2 days, and I cannot tell you how hard it’s been, both mentally and physically to get through this. It’s pushed me to limits I didn’t think existed despite my previous stays. 

‘Of course I’ll share with you why over the coming weeks. But for now I just wanted to say thank you for all the incredible messages, the kind and thoughtful gestures, the virtual hug of support that has blown me away since I’ve been in hospital. 

‘I’ve got challenges ahead of me, like always, but for now I get the weekend with my family and that Is the best thing I could ever ask for.’

However things took a turn for the worse when Deborah got home and she had to be taken back into hospital for emergency scans and blood tests

‘I ended up in a lot of tears, a lot of pain on Monday,’ she said in an Instagram update.

She explained: ‘Plan for me is, as much as I want to escape the Marsden, it looks like I have to come in for daily IVs. Hopefully not on Easter Sunday but we’ll see.

‘My husband and my mum, my sister… People have been rallying around to bring me in each day. It’s what I need. I don’t really have a choice with that but I’m lucky to be able to do it as an out-patient rather than an in-patient.’

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’.

‘I know there are people who take months and months to recover. I’m only five weeks into it and it’s small steps,’ she said. ‘I forget, I’ve made progress. I don’t think I’ll ever take for granted again being able to walk. 

‘I’m having to learn how to walk from the car into the Marsden. I’m having to learn how to get dressed again.

‘Each time I have CTs it’s showing my cancer is still stable and still responding to the drugs. That’s what we want in this scenario. Even though it’s very tough. I’m not going to lie, I’m in a very tough scenario.’

April 27 2022: She tells Lorraine that she has spent ’80 per cent’ of the year in hospital and her ‘body is tired’

Deborah (above) admitted to Lorraine Kelly: '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'

Deborah (above) admitted to Lorraine Kelly: ‘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’ 

Speaking to host Lorraine Kelly for the “No Butts” campaign from Royal Marsden Hospital, where she had spent a month as an in-patient with sepsis, Deborah said: ‘I’m wearing makeup and I’ve brushed my hair, which in a weird way is progress, to be honest with you. 

‘Three weeks ago, I couldn’t get myself out of bed to go to the toilet, I couldn’t stand up. A couple of times this year [you’ve nearly lost me]. If I’m being honest, I don’t really know how I’m alive. This year has been really crazy. 

‘I’ve spent about 80 per cent 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.

‘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.’

May 9 2022: Deborah announces she has moved to hospice care and posts ‘goodbye’ message on her Instagram page

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

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

The mother-of-two also announced the news she was launching a fund in her name in order to help others who were suffering from similar diseases 

‘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,’ she wrote.

‘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.’



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