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Never Too Young - Bowel Cancer UK

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Posted by Ella Thorpe on 24th May 2022

Medical Negligence

Dame Deborah James (‘Bowelbabe’) was 35 years old when she was diagnosed with Stage 3 Bowel Cancer in 2016, which sadly changed to Stage 4 four months later. For five years she has campaigned tirelessly to raise awareness for Bowel Cancer and support fellow patients.

The podcast host of ‘You, Me and the Big C’ has been made a Dame by Prince William at her family home after creating the Bowelbabe fund, which has now reached over £6m in donations. Dame Deborah has been campaigning publicly for the last 5 years and has supported many people through her openness in battling this disease.

Dame Deborah explained in an Instagram post that sadly, her active care has now stopped, and she is being moved to hospice treatment at home. She posted that she always knew there was one thing she wanted to do before she died and that was to raise as much awareness and money for the charities that are closest to her - Cancer Research, Royal Marsden and Bowel Cancer UK. This led to the launch of the Bowelbabe Fund, which has wildly surpassed all her expectations.

Dame Deborah is a patron of Bowel Cancer UK, who provide support to cancer patients. Bowel Cancer UK are campaigning for policy changes for younger bowel cancer sufferers, which will improve early diagnosis, treatment, and care. Many young people diagnosed with bowel cancer were initially told that they were “too young”. This is something that Dame Deborah also experienced.

Over the course of six months, Dame Deborah was laughed at three times for telling her GP that she believed she had bowel cancer. This was because over the space of a year she had a change in bowel habits, was losing weight, felt shattered and was passing blood. After being fed up with being dismissed and waiting for a referral, Dame Deborah went to have a private colonoscopy appointment where they found a 5.5cm cancerous, ulcerated stage 3 tumour which had a BRAF mutation into the rarest and most hard to treat tumour.  

Dame Deborah made it her mission to help stop bowel cancer. Bowel cancer can be treatable and curable, especially if diagnosed early.

Bowel Cancer, also known as colorectal cancer, affects the large bowel, which is made up of the colon and the rectum. According to Bowel Cancer UK, around 43,000 people in the UK are diagnosed with bowel cancer every year. More than 2,600 of those people are under 50 years old.

Symptoms can include:
· Bleeding from your bum or blood in your poo
· A persistent and unexplained change in bowel habits
· Unexplained weight loss
· Extreme tiredness for no obvious reason
· A pain or lump in your tummy

Most people that experience the symptoms above don’t have bowel cancer. There are many other conditions that cause the same symptoms. It’s really important that you don’t ignore any symptoms, especially if things don’t feel right. Don’t be embarrassed, as doctors see people with bowel problems often.

If you, or anyone you know is affected by bowel cancer and need support, please get in touch with Bowel Cancer UK.

If you would like to donate to Bowelbabe please find the link here.

Facts and figures

Deborah’s Instagram page

Deborah’s Podcast – You, Me and the Big C

Deborah’s Book – ‘F*** You Cancer’ can be found in bookshops and online.