DEBORAH James has revealed the operation to remove her 17th cancerous tumour ‘went well’.
The Sun columnist and podcaster with advanced bowel cancer says she is recovering at home after the surgery on Thursday.
Writing on Instagram last night, Deborah said: “Been let out early for good behaviour! Back to parents for a few days for a bit of TLC and less risk of infection from my walking little ‘snot bags’ (who I can’t wait to see very soon!).
“I got 4 hours sleep. It felt like 40! I feel like I’ve been in a haze for 4 days.
“Everything is a bit blurry. But I do know I cried on a lot of people! But ‘Hasta la Vista’ (baby) tumour numero 17 (I think!)……”
Deborah, 39, has shared her experience of living with bowel cancer in her column, Things Cancer Made Me Say.
The mum-of-two, who also hosts the BBC’s You, Me And The Big C podcast, was first diagnosed with stage 4 bowel cancer in 2016, aged just 35.
She has been told twice she is “cancer free”, the last being January of 2020 when Deborah said there was “no evidence” of the disease in her body.
But her cancer reappeared in May, when two cancerous lymph nodes were found and removed.
Her latest scans revealed the cancer had “reawakened” again with the development of a third node, which was operated on last week.
WHAT ARE THE WARNING SIGNS OF BOWEL CANCER?
- Blood in your poo, or bleeding from your back passage
- Persistent and unexplained change in your bowel habits
- Unexplained weight loss
- Feeling exhausted for no obvious reason
- A pain or lump in your tummy
Deborah has spoken candidly about “living way past my sell by date”, given the low survival odds of her rare type of bowel cancer.
Only 10 per cent of people with stage 4 bowel cancer survive five years or more.
And Deborah has a rare mutation which becomes used to treatments quickly, leaving little options.
Deborah wrote in her column in August: “I have a rare mutation known as a BRAF mutation that makes my bowel cancer unusual.
“As I read through all the information, I was searching to see how many people like me survive five years or more?
“What I found terrified me – figures ranged from four to six months and 18 months at best.
“I always knew I was living way past my sell by date, having been diagnosed three-and-a-half years ago, but I didn’t really comprehend just how far past it I am.”
“I’m alive thanks to these drugs”
Deborah credits the drugs she is on for giving her a fighting chance.
The drugs include Braftovi, which has just been approved for use on the NHS in combination with another drug.
Deborah, 39, has been taking the non-chemotherapy drugs since August last year as a case study.
“I am alive thanks to these drugs,” she said.
Approval by drugs regulators means about 1,400 advanced bowel cancer patients will now get the Braftovi combination.
The brave mum said it would bring hope to thousands with the same BRAF mutation as her.
Around one in 10 people with bowel cancer have the mutation, which equates to about 4,500 people in the UK every year.
Speaking ahead of surgery last week, Deborah 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.”
But despite keeping optimistic, the ex-deputy headteacher has been open about her internal struggles.
In a column in August, in which she said she “couldn’t stop crying” despite being cancer free, Deborah said: “Yes, I might not look like I’m struggling, from the outside I look fine. Well in fact.
“I’m sure people look at my smiley, happy Instagram shots and think, ‘how can she really have cancer, is she making this all up’?
“It’s ‘swan syndrome’ – on the surface my life looks fine. To the observer looking on, I look OK, I’m happy, dancing and loving life.
“But inside I am frantically moving my feet, swimming against my own fears and anxieties and desperately trying to stay afloat.”