Salute the courage of Deborah James - and watch out for the early signs of bowel cancer

Every week, former journalist Peter Bowen, 84, writes a column for the Leamington and Warwick Courier, incorporating the Kenilworth Weekly News. This week he focusses on a very personal issue - and the importance of watching out for the early signs of the cancer

BBC presenter Deborah James has told fans she doesnt know how long Ive got left (Photo: Deborah James / bowelbabe Instagram)
BBC presenter Deborah James has told fans she doesnt know how long Ive got left (Photo: Deborah James / bowelbabe Instagram)

Peter Bowen's column:

Salute the courage of 40-year-old mother Deborah James, who has terminal bowel cancer but has raised over £6m through her Bowelbabe Fund to pay for clinical trials and research that could result in new treatments for cancer patients.

Sign up to our daily WarwickshireWorld Today newsletter

Deborah, a broadcaster, and a popular host of the BBC podcast “You, Me and the Big C” revealed in a tweet to her thousands of followers that she was receiving end-of-life care at her home after a long fight against the illness first diagnosed in 2016.

Deborah was made a Dame by the Queen with the honour presented by Prince William last week in front of her family at home in recognition of her raising awareness of the illness and starting the Bowelbaby Fund.

Her podcasts had lifted the hearts of the nation which responded generously to her upbeat and characteristic zany enthusiasm for life when fighting the cancer. There was an outpouring of love by the public, demonstrated by thousands of £10 donations and children giving up their pocket money to the charity.

The courage shown by this mother of two teenage children when urging people to raise money for others suffering from bowel cancer during some of her darkest hours can be described as beyond exemplary. It can only be imagined what she and her family have gone through over the last few weeks.

I have some idea how much it will help research into bowel cancer. I was diagnosed with the disease in 2005 and had surgery at Warwick Hospital. It causes worry and anxiety for both patient, family and friends. I was lucky as the cancer was caught early and the surgery was successful.

So much more work needs to be done in research and clinical trials to fight cancer, which affects up to one in four people. I am living proof that surgery works. There are many calls on family finances at this particular time but please give as much as you can to this new charity. The money will fund vital research work to the point where we can eradicate this awful disease.

People should not be afraid to confront bowel cancer as in the majority of cases treatment is successful and there is a full recovery. Advances have been made in surgery techniques meaning operations are not so invasive and recovery is quicker. In some cases bowel surgery may require a stoma to be created, this being temporary or permanent. The Stoma Care Department at Warwick has amazing depth of knowledge and gives support before and after surgery, which continues throughout the recovery period and beyond.

Watch out for the early signs of the cancer.

Do not delay in contacting your doctor if you are losing weight, discover traces of blood in your stool after going to the lavatory, or find that you are going more often than usual. The NHS is concerned that too many patients were put off going to their GP or hospital during the pandemic fearing they would catch Covid. It is best to get any symptoms checked out as soon as possible as early diagnosis helps the medical team.

Read More

Read More
Deborah James: who is podcast host, bowel cancer symptoms, who is her husband, w...

Meanwhile, plans are well advanced in preparation for the events to be held in Warwick District during the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games. Victoria Park will host the bowling competition.

Leamington should be proud of its greens, made famous by the international teams playing in the World Championships in 2004 saying the quality of the surface was outstanding.

Anything that brings international recognition should be welcomed as it creates an awareness of South Warwickshire as an area for tourism and trade. Leamington, Warwick and Stratford have so much to offer but the authorities do little to market attractions across the world.

It is disappointing when criticism is levelled at the hosts or organisers of projects that gain good publicity for towns in “the golden triangle” because of a temporary disruption to roads and services.

South Warwickshire will need as much business as it can get in the troublesome years ahead. Finally, congratulations are in order for Sam Ryder coming second when representing the UK in the Eurovision song contest last week-end. It was a great night and something to cheer about considering our poor performances in recent years. The nation cannot begrudge Ukraine winning the contest as Europe showed its support for a country fighting for survival against Russian invaders.