BBC's Deborah James worries fans as she shares snap from hospital

BBC podcaster Deborah James, 40, who has incurable bowel cancer, leaves fans worried as she shares snap from hospital after a ‘rough few days’

  • BBC podcaster Deborah James, 40, has shared a snap from her hospital bed
  • Mother-of-two is currently an in-patient as she battles stage four bowel cancer 
  • She revealed she had ‘a rough few days’ as she underwent procedures

BBC podcast host Deborah James, who has incurable bowel cancer, has revealed she had a ‘rough few days’ as she shared a snap from hospital over the weekend. 

The former deputy head teacher turned cancer campaigner, 40, from London, 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 – a milestone that passed in the autumn of 2021. 

At the start of the year, the mother-of-two announced she had ‘nearly died’ in hospital, calling it the ‘hardest’ part of her 5-year cancer battle, and was admitted as an in-patient earlier this month.

In an Instagram post shared yesterday, Deborah wrote had ‘a rough few days’ as she underwent a ‘good few procedures.’

BBC podcast host Deborah James, 40, from London, who has incurable bowel cancer, worried fans on Saturday as she shared a snap to Instagram from her hospital bed

Posting online, she wrote: ‘I’ve had a rough few days. A good few procedures including treatment, rebanding of my varices, drain changes, dealing with pain, and a million and one other things has really taken it out of me.

‘I’m just resting up and recovering from it all.’

She continued: ‘Right now this for me Is Bowel cancer. And honestly It’s not fun in the slightest.’ 

She continued: ‘April is Bowel Cancer Awareness Month. Every 15 minutes somebody is diagnosed with bowel cancer in the UK, that’s nearly 43,000 people each year. And sadly it’s the second largest cancer killer in the U.K. 

The cancer campaigner, who has been living with stage four bowel cancer since she was diagnosed in December 2016, took to Instagram to update her followers on her journey

‘This month I’ll be sharing lots of information on the things you need to be looking for when it comes to all things bowel and guts. 

‘But for now, please join me in sharing your bowel cancer story alongside @bowelcanceruk using the hashtag #thisisbowelcancer

‘Everyone affected by bowel cancer has their own unique story to tell. We can be such a strong and supportive community. 

‘One that helps each other through the good days and the bad days – the rollercoaster that is bowel cancer. 

The mother-of-two revealed she had ‘a rough few days’ as she underwent a ‘good few procedures

‘Whether you’re a patient, family member, friend, colleague, healthcare professional or researcher @bowelcanceruk want to bring the varied and many people affected by bowel cancer together this Bowel Cancer Awareness Month to shine a light on your stories and experiences.’ 

Fans rushed to the comments to share their love and support for the campaigner., with one writing: ‘Sending so much love and healing wishes to you.’ 

Another wrote: ‘You are an amazing strong lady Deborah. Praying you feel better soon. Rest up you’ve been through so much. Sending love, strength and healing.’

A third added: ‘Sending love to your brave heart, you show us so much about the strength and vulnerability of being in a human body.’ 

It’s been a difficult year so far for the mother-of-two, who is currently receiving in-patient treatment in hospital. 

It is understood she continues to receive in-patient treatment, but was allowed home over the weekend to spend Mother’s Day with her family. 

Fans rushed to the comments to share their love and support for the campaigner, with one saying she hopes she gets a ‘break from all this soon’

She has spent months recovering after she almost died in January due to a medical emergency. 

In January, she said the ‘trauma’ of nearly dying was still ‘very raw and real’ as she returned home after three weeks in hospital. 

Posting on Instagram earlier this year, the mother-of-two spoke of enduring the ‘hardest, most heartbreaking and scariest’ period of her cancer battle in the last week, which has involved three operations and ‘a lot more procedures’ to come. 

She told how her husband watched as doctors fought to save her life after she ‘crashed’ in resuscitation. 

It’s been a difficult year so far for the mother-of-two, who is currently receiving in-patient treatment in hospital 

‘A week ago at this time in the evening I nearly died in what was an acute medical emergency,’ she wrote. ‘I’m not ready to discuss what happened yet as the trauma of it all has been incredibly intense – but it’s thanks to an unbelievable team of NHS specialists who worked all through the night and the next day to save me.  


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.

‘I cannot be more grateful. I’m still not out of danger and I have a lot more procedures to deal with. But I’m now out of intensive care. And for the first time felt able to briefly update you.’ 

Sharing a photo of her giving a thumbs up from a hospital bed, she continued: ‘This is me yesterday having just come round from my 3rd operation this week. I have another operation tomorrow.

‘In 5 years of having stage 4 Cancer – this has been the hardest, most heartbreaking and scariest of them all. I’d always prepared for my death, but I wasn’t prepared for something so blindsiding and traumatic to happen. 

‘I can’t quite believe I’m here to write this. A week ago my whole family was praying I’d pull through the night. I’m getting a lot of help and support to come to terms with the trauma I’ve been through. 

‘My family have been incredible. I don’t know how my husband held it together seeing me crash as an army of doctors stabilised me in resus.’

After thanking followers for their support, she added: ‘Do me a favour and go tell your loved ones how much you love them. To realise in a sudden split moment that you are unlikely to see the next day is utterly heartbreaking. Have no regrets.’ 

Discussing how difficult the last six months have been, James said while she was really happy that the ‘big gun chemo’ she endured has slowed her cancer’s growth, which had been ‘on the march’, it had been an exhausting time. 

In the summer, James 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. 

The stent fitted to stop her liver failing ‘stopped working’ in December.

She explained to her followers at the time how hopes at having a ‘quick replacement operation’ had turned into a ‘nightmare’. 

She said: ‘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.’  

Last year, 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.

The West London mother-of-two, a deputy head, was diagnosed ‘late’ with incurable bowel cancer in 2016.

Deborah, who has incurable bowel cancer, revealed how she ‘nearly died’ in January in an ‘acute medical emergency’. She shared this photo from hospital

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.

In 2018, Deborah joined Lauren Mahon and Rachael Bland 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.

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