BBC podcast presenter Deborah James, who has incurable cancer, has said she is looking for ‘magic medicine miracle’ after her liver stent failed.
The former deputy head teacher turned cancer campaigner, 40, 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.
Earlier this summer, she was told she had an aggressive new tumour that had wrapped itself around her bile duct – requiring a life-saving stay in hospital – and a stent fitted to stop her liver from failing.
However posting on Instagram last night, she said she felt she was ‘on a London hospital tour’, and explained how the stent ‘stopped working’.
She explained having a ‘quick replacement operation’ had turned into a ‘nightmare’, adding: ‘I’m now at the mercy of hopefully some super ‘magic medicine miracle’ – but then I always have been, and any chance is a chance right? All I ever say Is all I want is hope and options.’
BBC podcast presenter Deborah James, 40, who has incurable cancer, has said she is looking for ‘magic medicine miracle’ after her liver stent failed
Posting a snap from the car park of a hospital, she wrote: ‘Plan B bile stent operation wasn’t an option either, so I’m now back to the Marsden asap to look at Plan C! Or D or Z if there is one!
‘Just to clarify – about 6 months ago I needed a bile stent to keep my liver draining.
‘Despite feeling actually the best I have done in a while, we could see this was beginning to stop working (as they often do), but unfortunately what was supposed to be a quick replacement operation turned into a nightmare.
‘Mainly due to cancer changes in that area, meaning it’s no longer straight forward to just get my plumbing working!
Posting on Instagram last night, she said she felt she was ‘on a London hospital tour’, and explained how the stent ‘stopped working’
‘So I now have no stent, and desperately need some out of the box quick thinking!’
She continued: ‘At about 4pm today I really thought all hope was lost, But luckily a few chats later with my oncologist, and just talking through what pathways we can try is all I need.
‘To be given a realistic glimmer of them is enough to help me keep the faith. So I’m not sure what my next steps look like, but as always it’s one at a time.
‘It’s all rather ironic that on this same night, five years ago I was desperately wondering how I’d put one foot in front of another when I heard the words ‘you have cancer’.
The mother-of-two spent weeks this autumn recovering from an infection, after she was rushed to hospital with a fever
‘If there’s one thing I’ve learnt over five years – its that somehow you can keep walking, even when it’s scary, but you must always keep the faith.’
The mother-of-two has spent the last few months recovering from an infection, after she was rushed to hospital with a fever.
She shared an update on Instagram last month, writing: ‘Apologies for being quiet on here but it turns out I’m pretty ill at the moment. All your messages have brought a smile to my face at a really tough time.’
She continued: ‘I’m using all my energy to recover and today is the first day I’ve felt able to give you an update.
The social media star has documented her battle with cancer online since being diagnosed and campaigned for better awareness around bowel cancer diagnosis
‘Despite so desperately wanting a break from these hideous cancer treatment side effects, it seemed my body had other ideas.
‘On Wednesday I was admitted with what we now know was another septic infection. I was so ill my incredible husband had to blue light me quickly to A&E.
‘This time all my Bowel issues have come to ahead and I’m currently dealing with a condition called infectious colitis. Essentially I have a bacterial gut infection that is causing colitis – (Bowel inflammation) and is also in my blood stream.
‘I never knew you could poo so much in the space of 5 minutes! And I look about 8 months pregnant! I’m being looked after well, pumped continually full of antibiotics and fluids but of course feel incredibly weak and tired from no sleep.’
Last month she revealed how she was rushed to A&E after experiencing ‘spiking 40 degree temperatures’ on Tuesday (pictured)
She added: ‘Whilst I’ve always wanted to show every side of cancer, right now living through this all is hard and isn’t something I want even my kids to be witness to.
‘I’m just getting through it day by day, second by second and my family have been incredible at rallying around to support.
‘I’m making slow progress and hoping things continue to improve.’
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.
- 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.
Thanking fans for support, she added: ‘Keep telling those close to you that you love them. Having good health is such a blessing – never take it for granted.’
The Instagram post came just days after she revealed her chemotherapy is working.
The podcast host, who admitted she has suffered the ‘hardest three months’ of her life, posted on social media and indicated her battle with the disease had turned a corner, revealing: ‘MY CHEMO IS WORKING! Words, I wanted to hear, but didn’t allow myself to think might happen.’
She continued: ‘I think I’ve been preparing for the worst actually. I have to say waiting for these scan results has been incredibly hard. In my head I’ve gone to hell and back.
‘These are the first scans since my previous drugs stopped working, my liver packed up, and I got sepsis.
‘We started me back on what was my first line ‘nuclear chemo’ and it’s fair to say it’s floored me.
‘Despite the snippets of smiles and glam dresses I choose to share here (because they are the moments in my day that make me smile), behind closed doors this has been the hardest 3 months since my diagnosis physically (and mentally).’
She revealed doctors have said she is ‘stable’, adding: ‘ Essentially the cancer that was rapidly growing and causing my liver to fail, has been halted at least temporarily.
‘And my lymnodes are even shrinking! Am I cured? No. Will I ever be – No. Do I still have active cancer – sadly yes.
‘But this buys me more time. At least until my next scan!’
Adding she is ‘on her knees’ after having intensive chemotherapy for years, she said: ‘I’m of course over the moon by this news, and know how close I am to have receiving the other side of the coin.
‘But it hasn’t really sunk in because I’ve had my head down the loo for the last 3 days due to chemo and been asleep minus the fleeting windows of prancing you might see!’
She finished the post by writing: ‘But cheers to the blessing of another day, another chance, more options, and more life I didn’t think I’d see! One day at a time!’
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 December 2016, the West London mother-of-two, a deputy head, was diagnosed ‘late’ with incurable bowel cancer.
She has frequently said that as a vegetarian runner, she was the last person doctors expected to get the disease.
After sharing her experiences on living with the disease on social media, Deborah became known as the ‘Bowel Babe’ and began writing a column for the Sun.
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 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
- 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’