A Beauty Breaking the Stigma of Bowel Cancer
- Beloved BBC host and the newly damed Deborah James, 40, has been battling stage 4 bowel cancer since 2016, and has been determined to make a difference by sharing her story ever since.
- Known widely as “bowel babe” in the cancer and health community—and recently appointed a “Dame” in the UK—the wife and mother-of-two recently announced she is no longer receiving active treatment for her disease.
- Vowing to celebrate life every day, the activist has not stopped doing appearances, raising funds, and even had a certain royal (Prince William!) recently swing by her house in support.
- Many symptoms of bowel cancer, like a change in bowel habits or stool color, can often be misdiagnosed as the all-too-common irritable bowel syndrome, so it’s best to make sure to consult with your doctor if any of these issues arise.
Known widely as “bowel babe” in the cancer and health community, the wife and mother-of-two recently announced she is no longer receiving active treatment for her disease, and has been putting her energy into cancer campaigning. Most recently, Dame Deborah has been supporting those participating in the Race For Life, and overall, just choosing to cherish life every day.Read More
“Firstly, congratulations on running Race For Life last night to well celebrate life, celebrate why we’re all here and to raise vital funds,” she expressed.
Deborah continued: “Not on social media too much and just spending time in the garden with my family. A much slower pace of life, which is not what I’m used to.”
Though she may not be on social media “too much,” she sure does make a splash when she does! Deborah just posted a photo of the one and only Prince William, 39, visiting her at her home.
Deborah had nothing but nice things to say about the highly popular royal, including how he is “clearly passionate about improving oncology outcomes.
“Prince William actually came to our family house today!! I am utterly honoured that he joined us for afternoon tea and champagne, where he not only spent a generous amount of time talking to my whole family but also honoured me with my Damehood,” she wrote on Instagram alongside a photo with Prince William in her garden. Deborah donned an elegant white linen and lace summer dress, while William sported a suit (no tie!), looking casual cool with a couple buttons unbuttoned.
“It’s quite surreal having a royal pop in at home, and yes you can imagine the cleaning antics and preparation went off the scale – but it was all irrelevant because William was so kind and he put us all at ease.”
“It was such a special day for my whole family, making memories to last a life time. He’s welcome back any time!” We would imagine so! Nothing like the support of a royal during your cancer battle.
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In fact, both he and his wife Kate Middleton, a.k.a. the Duchess of Cambridge, both do so much philanthropy for cancer organizations and patients like Deborah, who says that cancer has given her a sense of purpose.
“Continuing with the campaigning is keeping me going,” she admits. “But obviously the Bowel Babe fund I’m so proud of and it’s a legacy that I am so proud to leave behind when I am no longer here. But for the moment I’m here, I’m alive [and] kicking as much as I possibly can, and sending my love and thank you for all your kind messages.”
.@reallorraine and the team smashed Race for Life yesterday 👏
— Lorraine (@lorraine) June 9, 2022
Deborah also took the time to congratulate her friend Cara Hoofe for her clever idea of putting bowel cancer symptoms on toilet paper rolls. Cara was diagnosed in 2016 with stage 4 bowel cancer at age 32. She joined forces with Bowel Cancer UK for this pretty genius campaign.
Cara, in turn, shared that Deborah has been a “huge inspiration to her” and her sassy philanthropic endeavors.
“I met Deborah in the earlier days of her diagnosis through Bowel Cancer UK, I think one of the first times we met in person was at a carol concert for the charity where she was speaking,” Cara said.
“We’ve kept in contact through messaging throughout our treatment and she’s been a support to me and I really hope I’ve been a support to her as well.”
“This whole idea for the loo roll came off the back of how Deborah carries herself in everyday life,” Cara added about her bold friend, who just earned the title of “Dame” last month.
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Deborah—who is married to London banker Sebastien Bowen, with who she has two children: Hugo, 14, and Eloise, 12—was devastated to let her followers know that she had to stop treatment. “We have tried everything, but my body simply isn’t playing ball,” she said, though she is not giving up hope.”
Along with doing online appearances here and there to continue supporting fellow cancer activists, Deborah is, understandably, mainly focused on spending time with her family.
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Understanding Deborah’s Bowel Cancer
Deborah was diagnosed with stage four bowel cancer in December 2015. Bowel cancer is a general term for cancer that begins in the large bowel, says the National Health Service. Depending on where cancer starts, bowel cancer is sometimes called colon or rectal cancer, or colorectal cancer.
In the UK, where James lives, bowel cancer is one of the most common types of cancer diagnosed. It typically presents in people over the age of 60. And in the U.S., colorectal cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer in both men and women, excluding skin cancers.
Dr. Paul Oberstein, director of the Gastrointestinal Medical Oncology Program at NYU Langone’s Perlmutter Cancer Center, previously told SurvivorNet a few common symptoms of the disease to look out for:
- Change in bowel movements — sudden changes to the size, consistency or caliber of stool
- Change in stool color — bright red or black stool is a sign that an individual should seek medical attention
- Pain in the abdomen — unusual discomfort or bloating of the stomach. In the case of women, pain isn’t related to the menstrual cycle.
- Sudden and unexplained weight loss — rapid drop in weight that isn’t the result of diet or exercise
- Anemia — Individuals who feel a general sense of malaise or faintness, or are constantly tired or weak much more than usual, may want to consult a doctor.
Many symptoms of bowel cancer are similar to those of irritable bowel syndrome, so make sure to consult with your doctor.