BBC star 'currently cancer free', three years after stage 4 diagnosis

BBC presenter Deborah James, who has incurable stage 4 bowel cancer, reveals she’s currently FREE of the disease – and says doctors have told her she’s ‘rewriting the text book’

  • Deborah James, from London, was diagnosed with Stage 4 bowel cancer in 2016 
  • Yesterday she told 90K Instagram fans new scan shows ‘no evidence of cancer’   
  • Mother-of-two, 38, said doctors have told her, she’s ‘rewriting the text book’
  • Ex deputy head Deborah presents Radio 5 Live podcast ‘You, me and the Big C’

Deborah James, the BBC podcast presenter who has incurable stage four bowel cancer, has revealed her body is currently ‘free’ of the disease.

In an emotional post to her 90,000 Instagram followers, the mother-of-two, 38, who was diagnosed at the age of 35 in 2016, said that after ’10 operations, too many scans, a lot of chemo, some fancy drugs, lots of tears’ she was ‘still standing’. 

The former deputy head, who presents the Radio 5 Live podcast ‘You, me and the Big C’ and recently returned from a holiday in Mauritius, said her most recent scans showed ‘no evidence of cancer in my body’.

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Presenter of BBC Radio 5 Live podcast ‘You, me and the Big C’ Deborah James has revealed that there is currently ‘no evidence of cancer’ in her body. It’s three years since she was diagnosed with stage four bowel cancer at the age of 35

 The emotional Instagram post made by James to her 90,000 followers earlier this week

 The star vowed to take her continued treatment ‘one day at a time’ 

The mother-of-two, a former deputy head from South West London, has shared her journey with the disease including candid photos of herself undergoing treatment

Posting a defiant photo of herself on a beach on the Indian Ocean island, James, who writes under the name ‘bowel babe’, wrote a long post detailing her journey with the disease and calling the recent news ‘bonkers’ but vowing to be ‘realistic’, saying she would be back to treatment tomorrow.

She wrote:  ‘Ok Cancer – you chose the wrong girl. 3 Years on, 10 operations, too many scans, a lot of chemo, some fancy drugs, lots of tears…I’m still standing – and you (according to my most recent scans!) are still sleeping!’ 

She added: ‘In fact, we have cut you out, burnt you, zapped you, ablated you, used radiotherapy, used targeted therapy, used every tool in the book and right now in fact according to my team we are “rewriting the text book!”‘.

James pictured with her husband and two children, Hugo, centre left, and Eloise, centre right

She added that the news her type of stage four cancer, which she says has an 8 per cent five-year survival rate, had put her ‘in a place I never thought possible’.     

James, who continues to  live well, running frequently and enjoying holidays abroad as well as a busy career as a broadcaster and campaigner, has been brutally honest about her diagnosis, often sharing photos during treatment and asking people to not ignore unusual symptoms. 

Last summer, the mother-of-two even candidly discussed the prospect of dying with her young daughter, Eloise, during an interview.  

In the podcast with Lisa Snowdon for Fabulous magazine, James is heard asking Eloise, aged nine: ‘Do you ever worry about me dying?’.  

A recent photo of Deborah receiving treatment at the Royal Marsden Hospital in London 

The mother-of-two pictured with her two children, Eloise, far left, and Hugo, right, on the steps of the Royal Marsden hospital

Deborah (pictured here in hospital) has undergone countless rounds of grueling treatment and operations after she was diagnosed in 2016

Deborah James, who was diagnosed with stage 4 bowel cancer in 2016, recorded a podcast for Fabulous magazine with her daughter Eloise. The mother-and-daughter discussed how her mum having cancer made Eloise feel 

Her daughter responds clearly ‘no’ before James says: ‘Do you just get used to your mum living with cancer?’  

Eloise responds ‘Yes…and you get to go to nice places’.

What is bowel cancer and what are the symptoms?

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.

During the frank podcast ‘Things I Told My Daughter’, James also discussed how she’s living with cancer, saying she’s lucky that her body is responding to treatment and her team of doctors at London’s Royal Marsden Hospital are ‘keeping a lid on’ her disease.

The former deputy headteacher was training to be a headteacher when she was first diagnosed with the condition after feeling lethargic and passing blood in her stools. 

Deborah has seen her public profile rise since her diagnosis through campaigning for better bowel cancer awareness. 

The mother-of-two launched the #BowelBabeForStrictly in January last year in an effort to be named as a contestant on Strictly Come Dancing. 

Deborah presents Radio Five Live podcast ‘You, me and the Big C’  – pictured here with co-presenters Racheal Bland (right), who passed away in September 2018, and Lauren Mahon (middle)

However, she later confirmed she wouldn’t be joining the line-up of stars, despite being previously backed for the show by Kevin Clifton. 

She revealed some of her closest family believed she would be named as one of the contestants, saying: ‘I’m not, Mum I’m not on Strictly. I hate to break it to you.’ 

Deborah presented Radio Five Live podcast ‘You, me and the Big C’ – with late co-presenter Racheal Bland, who passed away in September 2018, and Lauren Mahon.  

In June last year, James told runners at a charity run that her cancer was going to have to ‘work around me because I’m quite busy and I enjoy my life’. 

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