'No Butts' Campaign & Bowel Cancer
- Journalist and host Deborah James, 39, is fighting stage four bowel cancer.
- She just launched the ‘No Butts’ campaign to get people talking about bowel cancer symptoms.
- Bowel cancer is one of the most commonly diagnosed cancers in the UK, where James lives.
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James says, “The reason ‘No Butts’ is so important is because we want to smash the poo taboo, I mean let’s face it, even your favorite actor poos. Let’s trigger that, let’s talk about poo, let’s have a conversation, pull up a pew, pull up a chair and talk about poo,” she says, reports The Daily Mail.
“There should be no embarrassment when talking about our bowel health,” James explains. “And ultimately, by doing it, we want to save lives.”
Understanding Bowel Cancer
James 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 NHS. Depending on where cancer starts, bowel cancer is sometimes called colon or rectal cancer, or colorectal cancer.
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In the UK, where James lives, bowel cancer is one of the most common types of cancer diagnosed. And 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. The American Cancer Society (ACS) estimates that in 2021 there will be 104,270 new cases of colon cancer and 45,230 new cases of rectal cancer.
James is a mother of two children (aged 13 and 11) and worries that she won’t be able to see her children reach their 18th birthdays, due to her illness. “It was the last thing I thought would ever happen,” says James, reports The Daily Mail. “It was caught very late and unfortunately, the chances of survival plummets.”
Coping with a Cancer Diagnosis
Coping with a diagnosis of bowel cancer, or other types of cancers can lead to complex emotions, including grief, depression, and anxiety. In an earlier interview, Dr. Scott Irwin explains the link between a cancer diagnosis and depression.
“Depression is a really interesting topic, because a lot of people assume that, oh, they have cancer. They must be depressed,” says Dr. Irwin. “That’s actually not true. 85% of patients do not get what would be considered a clinical depression. 15% do. For prescribing medications for depression in the context of cancer, I often try to choose medications with the lowest side effect profile.”
“If patients are getting hormonal therapy, there’s particular antidepressants that we can’t use, because they may lower the effectiveness of that hormonal therapy,” Dr. Irwin says. “And so we choose antidepressants that don’t impact the cancer care. Depression and stress make it harder to treat cancer, make it harder to tolerate the treatments.”