Dame Deborah James has revealed she had a ‘gut instinct that something wasn’t right’ before her bowel cancer diagnosis in her final TV appearance on E4’s Embarrassing Bodies tonight.
The former deputy head teacher turned cancer campaigner, 40, from London, is currently receiving hospice care at her parents’ home in Woking, after revealing last month that she’s no longer receiving active treatment for bowel cancer.
Sharing a clip from the programme on her Instagram stories today, Deborah explained: ‘I recorded this with the Embarrassing Bodies team a good while ago but it’s out tonight.
‘Tonight I join the #EmbarrassingBodies team to discuss some simple but important ways of detecting early bowel cancer symptoms. I hope to see you on @e4grams at 10pm.’
In the clip, she explained: ‘I started going to the poo – we need to say that – eight times a day. And I used to be a once-a-day kind of girl.
The mother-of-two speaks about her symptoms of bowel cancer such as needing to poo more frequently and loosing a lot of weight
Deborah (pictured at Royal Ascot yesterday) details how a number of changes in her body led her to have a ‘gut instinct’ that something wasn’t right
‘Then I started getting really tired and I remember drinking loads of cups of coffee just to try and keep myself awake. Then I started losing loads of weight and I started having blood in my poo.’
It was the combination of these changes, Deborah said, that led her to having a ‘gut instinct that something wasn’t right.
Dame Deborah speaks with GP Dr Tosin Ajayi-Sotubo about why ‘talk of poo, should never be a taboo’.
In emotional scenes, Deborah will tell young people her story to raise awareness of the disease while pressing her ‘check your poo’ message.
The mother-of-two – who set up the fundraiser for Bowelbabe Fund for Cancer Research UK which has now surpassed £6million in donations – told The Sun: ‘I might not live to see the episode air but I hope the message to “Check your poo” will live on, long after I’m gone.
‘It might be embarrassing but it might just save your life. Early diagnosis of things like bowel cancer saves lives.
‘So don’t live to regret it, and don’t risk dying because you’re shy. I’ve given my blessing for this episode to run if I’m gone, if it helps save one life it will be worth it.’
Dame Debs chats to GP Dr Tosin Ajayi-Sotubo (pictured) about why talk of poo, should never be a taboo
The campaigner recently said she has started her ‘to-do death list’ to support son Hugo, 14, and daughter, Eloise, 12, when she is gone, and has urged her husband Sebastien Bowen to find love, with the caveat: ‘Don’t be taken for a ride, don’t marry a bimbo’.
Mother-of-two Deborah was first diagnosed with bowel cancer in December 2016, and was told early on that it was likely she would not survive beyond five years – a milestone that passed in the autumn of 2021.
Dame Deborah is now receiving end of life care at her parents’ home in Woking and has raised over £6.5million in the weeks since she announced the news after launching her Bowelbabe Fund.
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, calling it the ‘hardest’ part of her 5-year cancer battle – before breaking the heartbreaking news that there was no more treatment she could have.
Deborah shared an Instagram post earlier this spring revealing, saying: ‘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 is receiving the hospice care at her parents’ home in Woking, to spare her children the difficult memories of her spending her final days at the family home in London.
The news comes after she told The Sun that she was ‘scared to fall asleep’ because she does not know how long she has got left.
Deborah is now receiving end of life care bowel cancer at her parents’ home in Woking and has raised over £6 million in the weeks since she announced the news
Struggles: Deborah James (pictured with husband Sebastien) has shared her anger amid her incurable bowel cancer battle and admitted she finds the pressure to ‘make memories’ hard
She added she had felt a ‘deep love’ from her family, saying: ‘I think my family are knackered, they have all been incredible – going above and beyond to look after me and nurse me.’
Symptoms of bowel cancer
– Change in bowel habits with diarrhoea, constipation or the feeling of incomplete emptying
– Thin or loose bowel movements
– Blood or mucous in stools
– Abdominal pain, bloating and cramping
– Anal or rectal pain
– Lump in the anus or rectum
– Unexplained weight loss
– Unexplained anaemia
And speaking of her end of life care recently she said: ‘I feel very strongly that I don’t want my kids to see me agitated and distressed. I want to make sure they see me when I’m having a good days.’
Saying the ‘pressure’ on her young children was ‘huge’, she continued: ‘I want them to have nice memories.
‘I don’t want them to take on the burden of having to care for me, massage my legs because I can’t walk. That would break my heart.’
In recent weeks, she has won praise from Prince William who called her ‘brilliant, brave and inspirational’ as he met some of the staff who treated her.
Speaking at the Royal Marsden to patient Lorraine Kimber, 59, from Essex, who is currently undergoing treatment for pancreatic cancer and knows Mrs James well, the prince described his meeting with her.
‘She was incredible, incredible. She was surrounded by her family, we had a lovely afternoon,’ he said.
‘You know she’s had over 100 tumours. Which is unbelievable. I couldn’t believe that. The resilience you have to have to keep going back again, it’s got to be very draining on you.’
William said: ‘She was joking…because they are a very tight family, very close, you could see that….she was joking that at last she could now drink.
‘She said it was brilliant. She was ‘triple parked’ and kept on joking about how many drinks she could get lined up in front of her.
‘She’s realising that being at home is just where she wants to be right now, surrounded by all her loved ones.’ He added: ‘ I love Deborah, she’s fantastic. Her legacy is massive.’
Illness: She is receiving hospice care at her parents’ home in Woking, to spare her children the difficult memories of her spending her final days at the family home in London
HOW DEPUTY HEAD TURNED SOCIAL MEDIA STAR HAS TRANSFORMED BOWEL CANCER AWARENESS
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
The campaigner has been praised for her honest portrayal of living – and dying – with cancer via her Instagram page @bowelbabe
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.’
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