United Kingdom

Disease returns for cancer podcaster Deborah James

Deborah James, pictured, was told that she was disease-free in January. The 39-year-old mother-of-two revealed doctors found new signs of bowel cancer which required surgery

A host of the BBC’s You, Me And The Big C podcast has revealed that her cancer has returned.

Deborah James has inspired countless patients by sharing her experience of the disease on Radio 5 Live.

But after being told that she was ‘disease-free’ in January, the 39-year-old married mother-of-two said doctors discovered new signs of her bowel cancer, and she has had surgery to have a growth removed.

Remaining typically upbeat, she said the disease was ‘stable’ thanks to a suite of ground-breaking drugs.

Speaking ahead of surgery last week to remove a small cancerous ‘node’ in her chest, she said: ‘Everything else is in a positive place… I don’t have any other signs of cancer in my body.

‘My cancer is stable – and that’s because of these drugs.’

The drugs include Braftovi, which has just been approved for use on the NHS in combination with another drug. Miss James has been taking the non-chemotherapy drugs since August last year. ‘I am alive thanks to these drugs,’ she said.

Miss James said she has seen ‘many friends’ who she met through cancer die in the four years since her diagnosis. One was a fellow host of the podcast, Rachael Bland, who died of breast cancer in 2018, aged 40.

Ms James hosted the You Me And The Big C podcast along with Rachael Bland, pictured, who died in 2018 of the disease aged 40

Surviving when others passed away has, she admitted, made her feel ‘guilty’ but at the same time ‘grateful to be alive’. Despite the return of her cancer – which had already required operations to remove 15 tumours and 24 rounds of chemotherapy plus radiotherapy – she has set her sights on a trio of achievements next year: to run the London Marathon again, celebrate her 40th birthday and reach the five-year mark of living with cancer.

The ex-deputy headteacher, now a bestselling author and columnist, said: ‘On paper, I shouldn’t be doing any of that. So to do so would be quite cool.’

The cancer first reappeared in May, when two cancerous lymph nodes were removed. The latest is in a third node.

Approval by drugs regulators means about 1,400 advanced bowel cancer patients will now get the Braftovi combination. Miss James said it would bring hope to thousands.

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