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M&S set to add bowel cancer signs to toilet paper  

Marks and Spencer is set to include bowel cancer signs and symptoms on it’s toilet roll packaging in a move inspired by Dame Deborah James.

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, calling it the ‘hardest’ part of her 5-year cancer battle, and was admitted as an in-patient earlier this month. 

She 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. 

Now, M&S, in partnership with Bowel Cancer UK, have announced their plan to include signs and symptoms for bowel cancer on the labelling of the everyday product.

Marks and Spencer is set to include bowel cancer signs and symptoms on it’s toilet roll packaging in a move inspired by Dame Deborah James, 40 

M&S employee Cara Hoofe originally came up with the idea, having herself been diagnosed with stage 4 bowel cancer in 2016 at the age of 32.

She submitted it to M&S’ newly launched Straight to Stuart colleague suggestion scheme. Introduced by new CEO Stuart Machin, the scheme encourages colleagues to share ideas and views with him directly via Microsoft Teams, with a quick response guaranteed. 

She said: ‘Deborah is a huge inspiration to me and so many other young people diagnosed with bowel cancer.

‘I feel fortunate my journey since diagnois has taken a different path but I want to give a voice to all those who can no longer use theirs to raise awareness. 

‘Early detection is so important and my main message to people is don’t feel embarrassed, get things checked out and speak to your doctor.

The changes will come into place nationwide from September, and there will also be signage about bowel cancer symptoms in-store and across support centre toilets

The changes will come into place nationwide from September, and there will also be signage about bowel cancer symptoms in-store and across support centre toilets

‘I’ve worked at M&S for over ten years and am so happy they are putting my idea into action and so quickly – I’m hoping other companies will consider joining us.’

M&S will also be making a £50,000 donation to Bowel Cancer UK.

The changes will come into place nationwide from September, and there will also be signage about bowel cancer symptoms in-store and across support centre toilets.

Shoppers will also be able to scan a QR code to find out more about the disease on Bowel Cancer UK’s website.

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

– Fatigue

– Unexplained anaemia

Deborah was diagnosed with stage four bowel cancer 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.

She shared an Instagram post earlier this month revealing that ‘nobody knows how long she has left’.

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.’

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.

The news comes days after she told The Sun that she was ‘scared to fall asleep’ because she does not know how long she has got left.

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.’

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.’

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

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

In recent days, 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.’

In recent days, she has won praise from Prince William who called her 'brilliant, brave and inspirational' after meeting her

In recent days, she has won praise from Prince William who called her ‘brilliant, brave and inspirational’ after meeting her 

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.’   

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

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

 

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Read more at DailyMail.co.uk