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Allergies & DiseasesBBC podcast presenter Deborah James who has incurable cancer celebrates her 40th

BBC podcast presenter Deborah James who has incurable cancer celebrates her 40th

BBC podcast presenter Deborah James, who has stage four bowel cancer, has shared snaps from her wild 40th birthday party after fearing it was a milestone she would never see. 

The former deputy head turner cancer campaigner from London, a mother-of-two, 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.

However last night, she shared snaps and clips as she threw an enormous house party at her home, complete with a performance from popstar Sophie Ellis-Bextor.

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. 

BBC podcast presenter Deborah James, who has stage four bowel cancer, has shared snaps from her wild 40th birthday party after fearing it was a milestone she would never see (pictured left, with popstar Sophie Ellis-Bextor who performed at the event)

BBC podcast presenter Deborah James, who has stage four bowel cancer, has shared snaps from her wild 40th birthday party after fearing it was a milestone she would never see (pictured left, with popstar Sophie Ellis-Bextor who performed at the event)

BBC podcast presenter Deborah James, who has stage four bowel cancer, has shared snaps from her wild 40th birthday party after fearing it was a milestone she would never see (pictured left, with popstar Sophie Ellis-Bextor who performed at the event) 

Deborah said she had initially planned a 'low key' dinner and dance party for her closest friends and family last week (pictured)

Deborah said she had initially planned a 'low key' dinner and dance party for her closest friends and family last week (pictured)

Deborah said she had initially planned a ‘low key’ dinner and dance party for her closest friends and family last week (pictured) 

‘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!).’

She continued: ‘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!’

The You, Me and the Big C star, who has been living with bowel cancer since she was diagnosed in December 2016 and has suffered a difficult few months after an aggressive new tumour near her liver had wrapped itself around her bile duct - leaving her requiring life-saving hospital treatment

The You, Me and the Big C star, who has been living with bowel cancer since she was diagnosed in December 2016 and has suffered a difficult few months after an aggressive new tumour near her liver had wrapped itself around her bile duct - leaving her requiring life-saving hospital treatment

The You, Me and the Big C star, who has been living with bowel cancer since she was diagnosed in December 2016 and has suffered a difficult few months after an aggressive new tumour near her liver had wrapped itself around her bile duct – leaving her requiring life-saving hospital treatment

Snaps shared on Deborah’s social media showed her house decorated with a huge array of balloons, with her friends and family sitting down for a candle-lit dinner before the party. 

Later she shared clips as she performed a speech which she said she had ‘written in the bathroom on her phone’ before the event. 

It wasn’t the first birthday celebration Deborah has thrown in recent days. 

Last month, a glamorous-looking James shared a photo on Instagram of herself enjoying a night out at a swish London hotel.

Snaps shared on Deborah's social media showed her house decorated with a huge array of balloons, with her friends and family sitting down for a candle-lit dinner before the party

Snaps shared on Deborah's social media showed her house decorated with a huge array of balloons, with her friends and family sitting down for a candle-lit dinner before the party

Snaps shared on Deborah's social media showed her house decorated with a huge array of balloons, with her friends and family sitting down for a candle-lit dinner before the party

Snaps shared on Deborah's social media showed her house decorated with a huge array of balloons, with her friends and family sitting down for a candle-lit dinner before the party

Snaps shared on Deborah’s social media showed her house decorated with a huge array of balloons, with her friends and family sitting down for a candle-lit dinner before the party 

After a difficult summer, in which she was told she had an aggressive new tumour near her liver that had wrapped itself around her bile duct – requiring a life-saving stay in hospital, James said just hearing the words Happy Birthday ‘made me smile’.

She told her 222,000 Instagram followers: ‘It’s not quite my birthday! But last night I got my first “Happy Birthday” and my word it made me smile! 

‘I appreciate it’s weird to bang on about a birthday, but it’s a milestone one (40) I was told I wouldn’t see.’ 

James followed up with: ‘So forgive the next week of “omg, I might actually see my 40th” over excitement on the posting front!’ 

Last month, James urged people to see a doctor if they felt something wasn’t right following the death from breast cancer of Girls Aloud star Sarah Harding. 

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

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

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

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

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

The podcast host later shared a clip as she danced with her husband late into the evening (pictured)

The podcast host later shared a clip as she danced with her husband late into the evening (pictured)

The podcast host later shared a clip as she danced with her husband late into the evening (pictured) 

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

Sarah passed away on September 5th, just 13 months after confirming her terminal cancer diagnosis. Her death was announced by her devastated family on social media.

Speaking about Sarah’s death, James said it was ‘hard-hitting’, adding: ‘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.

The social media star has documented her battle with cancer online since being diagnosed and campaigned for better awareness around bowel cancer diagnosis

The social media star has documented her battle with cancer online since being diagnosed and campaigned for better awareness around bowel cancer diagnosis

The social media star has documented her battle with cancer online since being diagnosed and campaigned for better awareness around bowel cancer diagnosis

‘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.’ 

She said she could relate to Sarah’s fears about being diagnosed, saying: ‘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.’

She explained: ‘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 strive 10 years after they are diagnosed with cancer then 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 is to recognise it has to start with them and we have to come forward.

She praised her husband, Sebastien Bowen, for 'keeping the family together', posting a picture of the couple at Queen's tennis tournament in West London in early summer

She praised her husband, Sebastien Bowen, for 'keeping the family together', posting a picture of the couple at Queen's tennis tournament in West London in early summer

She praised her husband, Sebastien Bowen, for ‘keeping the family together’, posting a picture of the couple at Queen’s tennis tournament in West London in early summer

‘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.’ 

Deborah has been documenting her battle with cancer online since diagnosis, including revealing how her mother, known as @bowelgran on Instagram, had been helping her cope while her family were away on holiday this summer.

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

Posting the clip, 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 chereographed routine to Staying Alive, she added: ‘Song couldn’t be more apt! Cancer is still happening!’ 

Deborah, who was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2016, told her followers earlier this year that scan results had shown: 'Things have moved (in the wrong direction) very quickly'

Deborah, who was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2016, told her followers earlier this year that scan results had shown: 'Things have moved (in the wrong direction) very quickly'

Deborah, who was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2016, told her followers earlier this year that scan results had shown: ‘Things have moved (in the wrong direction) very quickly’

In August, the cancer campaigner had a liver stunt fitted to allow her to have further chemotherapy.     

She shared a photo of herself with husband Sebastien at the Queen’s tennis tournament in West London, saying: ‘I think you all know, by my general lack of being on here (dancing!), that things have moved (in the wrong direction) very quickly cancer wise.’ 

Deborah praised her ‘superman’ husband, Sebastien Bowen, for ‘keeping the family together’ during a ‘crazy a** scary week’. She has two children with the French banker, Hugo and Eloise. 

The upbeat presenter added: ‘I do have a glimmer of hope and options and am greatful to my team who are currently pulling a “next step” plan together that doesn’t including writing me off just yet!’ 

Revealing she’d endured many tests and scans in recent days, Deborah said she’d ‘earnt a hell of a lot of brownie points for the amount of time I’ve spent on scanners and having tests this week’. 

She added that: ‘Whilst it goes without saying that I’ve felt at rock bottom, I’m not giving up hope just yet.’

The mother-of-two finished the post by saying she was ‘taking the weekend to snuggle up with my family so you won’t see me on here, and I urge you to do the same.’

Last year, Deborah began taking new experimental drugs as part of a trial after her oncology team gave her the green light to do so. 

In April, 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. 

In the spring, James launched ITV’s Lorraine’s ‘No Butts’ campaign, designed to get people talking about the illness’s main symptoms, revealed how she recently asked her oncologist whether this was the ‘beginning of the end’ following her most recent results.

She has frequently said that as a vegetarian runner, she was the last person doctors expected to get the disease.  

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 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
Last week, 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

Last week, 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

Last week, 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
  • Deborah must now start chemotherapy again after her cancer stopped responding to the drugs she’s currently on
  • On October 1, Deborah celebrates her 40th birthday  

 

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The surgery was a success and her 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. 

Deborah, who says that as a stage 4 cancer patient all she wants is ‘hope and options,’ added that the node is inoperable and that her body is unable to cope with any more radiotherapy in that area.

However, with an oncologist confirming Deborah’s cancer is spreading to ‘limited sites’ in a ‘specific way,’ local therapies – including a mix of CyberKnife and ablation – have so far had positive outcomes. 

Deborah has also undergone a new type of ablation known as NanoKnife –  an ablation procedure that uses low energy electrical pulses to create defects in cell membranes, resulting in loss of homeostasis and subsequent cell death.   

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.

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