BBC podcaster Deborah James says she feels 'smashed to pieces'

BBC podcaster Deborah James, who has incurable cancer, says she feels ‘smashed to pieces’ in hospital a week after nearly dying during ‘acute medical emergency’

  • Deborah James, 40, from London, has penned an emotional post on Instagram 
  • Mother-of-two said she has felt ‘smashed to pieces’ and been ‘sobbing’ for days
  •  Comes after the BBC podcaster revealed she ‘nearly died’ in hospital last week
  • At the time she said it was an ‘acute medical emergency’ but did not share details
  • The mother-of-two said it has been the ‘hardest’ part of her 5-year cancer battle
  • Told how her husband watched doctors fight to save her life after she ‘crashed’ 

BBC podcast host Deborah James, who has incurable bowel cancer, has said she feels ‘smashed to pieces’ as she continues her battle in hospital a week after nearly dying during ‘acute medical emergency’.

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.   

In a picture shared on Instagram yesterday, the mother-of-two could be seen sitting on her hospital bed surrounded by medical equipment. 

She penned there had been ‘a lot of tears’ for days, saying: ‘Today has been one of those days where I feel like we are going round in circles. It’s the small things that break you sometimes when you are in hospital for too long.’

BBC podcast host Deborah James, who has incurable bowel cancer, has said she feels ‘smashed to pieces’ as she continues her battle in hospital a week after nearly dying during ‘acute medical emergency’

She continued: ‘It’s the failed canulars, being unable to move freely, not feeling like you are making progress, the daily worry about each test, the daily analytics of every bodyily function.

‘Wondering if you will ever get a break. Or that golden window for me to get treatment. 

‘I’m just in a place where I’ve been able to get the big cracks together (just), but I realised as I started my day off sobbing at our lack of being able to get blood from me, that underneath I’m still smashed to pieces.

‘Tomorrow will be a new day, and with that we will find strength to carry on.’

The podcaster said she hoped to find ‘strength to carry on’ as she continued her stay in hospital (pictured) 

Posting a photograph of various canulas and wires, she said there had been ‘a lot’ of tears over the last few days 

However earlier today she updated fans to say that she had been told her  bloods had ‘finally’ improved.

It comes after Deborah said she was ‘on the cancer rollercoaster’ earlier this week, writing: ‘A small bleed meant I ended up being rushed back into theatre having a colonoscopy and endocsopy within the hour to check for the source.’

‘It’s amazing how quickly crash teams work, and as much as I just want to be home (it’s now getting on to two weeks in hospital), it’s also nice to feel in a safe place when my body isn’t playing ball.’

She posted: ‘Yesterday was the classic ride high and fall flat at the last bend! Started with positive blood results, drains all out (unlike in this picture) and I was more fussed about my make up stash in hospital than anything else! Dry shampoo and Lippy for the win! 

‘Was feeling good (it’s all relative!) and my liver number were FINALLY improving (go liver!!). My oncologist even talked about getting me home in a few days.’

However she said things had gone down hill yesterday afternoon, adding: ‘Praying today will be un-eventual and stable! Thank you for your love. 

‘Either me or mum will update – it’s nice to have another source for updating you lovley lot. 

Earlier this week she revealed she had an ‘awful night’ in hospital after she was ‘rushed back into theatre’

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

‘Have to say that teaching mum how to use Instagram from my hospital bed has put a massive smile on my face! It’s certainly giving my family some well needed laughs!’

She added: ‘We keep going. One step at a time. As a late friend said “I haven’t come this far to only go this far.’

It comes after Deborah’s mother shared an  update on her daughter’s health yesterday on Instagram. 

She explained: ‘How she does it time and time again blows me away. It’s early hours, but it went to plan. The aim was to internalised her bile stent if it was working which so far it seems to be.

The mother of BBC podcast star Deborah told fans she has had five operations in 10 days following a medical emergency during which she almost died (pictured together) 

‘Obviously now she’s kept under close monitoring but she’s really happy (and emotional) because she has no drains for the first time in weeks. 

‘We just have to pray she remains stable for the foreseeable future now. Due to the operation today, I was allowed to see her briefly as her nominated visitor – which I’m grateful for.’ 

It comes days after Deborah filmed herself walking down a hospital hallway. She explained she was ‘beyond shattered’ after nearly dying last week.

She said she is ‘making progress’ and tasking her recovery step by step after 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.

The mother-of-two was told early on that she might not live beyond five years – a milestone that passed in the autumn (pictured) 

Sharing the video on Instagram, Deborah wrote: ‘Today I walked – it’s the first time in nine days I’ve been able to try. 

‘It’s never been so hard to muster the strength and conviction to do so. I’ve had four operations this week (with more to come), am beyond shattered with a very weak body,’ she revealed.

In the video, Deborah can be seen walking tentatively in a hospital hallway.

‘But somehow my body is still ploughing on. Sometimes all we can do is take things step by step. The nurses and doctors are being incredible – I’ve cried on pretty much everyone that pops their head around the door,’ she went on in her post.

‘I’m making progress, it’s slow, but steady. I’m still being monitored very closely. No idea what the next plan is- it’s just taking things bit by bit. 

‘It’s hard when you just want a plan, but the plan is really to try to get me better, whatever pathway that takes. My drains are to do with my bile duct – which they finally stented (well we are in the middle of that process), and acities, which I’ve had 10 litres drained already hence why I’m don’t look pregnant anymore,’ she explained.  

Days ago, Deborah shared a video as she took her first steps through hospital after her difficult week  

Sharing the video on Instagram, Deborah wrote: ‘Today I walked – it’s the first time in nine days I’ve been able to try.’ 

The podcaster shared she is making progress on her Instagram and updated her followers on her condition 

Posting on Instagram on Friday, 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. 

‘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.  

‘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.’

In new series of cancer podcast, You, Me and the Big C, Deborah revealed she had to learn how to walk again after being bed-bound with colitis in December

Posting on Instagram overnight, 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

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.’

It comes days after Deborah returned to her popular podcast You, me and the Big C and revealed how she’d been ‘absolutely floored’ by ‘big gun chemo’ during the summer and then a serious infection at the year’s end –  which saw her carried into a London hospital at 1am by her husband for treatment.

She told co-hosts Lauren Mahon and Steve Bland on the newest episode of the BBC podcast that she’d had to learn to walk again after being forced to remain in bed for almost a month.  

She said: ‘After colitis, I had to relearn to walk again because I had so much fluid.

‘I’d been bed-bound for three weeks and just learning how to walk to the end of the drive or whatever, is just impossible essentially.’  

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. 

James marked five years since her 2016 diagnosis – a milestone she thought she wouldn’t make – in December but was in hospital with infectious colitis 

She explained: ‘I have to be honest with you, going from targeted therapy back onto chemo, it was hardcore, big gun chemo, and it absolutely utterly floored me.

BOWEL CANCER: THE SYMPTOMS YOU SHOULDN’T IGNORE 

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 would say my quality of life was just hideous.’

Updating listeners on the current state of her health, she said: ‘Some days I feel fine, my quality of life is OK right now, but I’m not the person people have known for the past four years where I’m running around exercising everyday.’ 

‘It’s just stable in a really b****y awkward place.’

The campaigner revealed that because of her reduced liver function and the colitis, she’s not likely to qualify for a clinical trial. 

She admitted she’d been ‘procrastinating’ over potential treatment options during the Christmas break.   

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.’ 

In April, 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.

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. 

The former deputy head teacher celebrated her 40th birthday in October but admitted that ‘big gun chemo’ in the summer had ‘floored her’

HOW DEPUTY HEAD TURNED SOCIAL MEDIA STAR HAS TRANSFORMED BOWEL CANCER AWARENESS

In 2018, Deborah (left) joined Lauren Mahon (front) and Rachael Bland (right) 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

  • In December 2016, the West London mother-of-two, a deputy head, was diagnosed ‘late’ with incurable bowel cancer
  • After sharing her experiences on living with the disease on social media, Deborah became known as the ‘Bowel Babe’ 
  • In 2018, she became one of three presenters on Radio 5 Live’s You, Me and the Big C, which was conceived by her late co-host Rachael Bland 
  • On September 5th 2018, Welsh journalist and presenter Bland, diagnosed with terminal breast cancer, died at the age of 40
  • Deborah and her co-host Lauren Mahon continue to present the show, with Steve Bland, Rachael’s husband, joining the duo
  • On social media and in her column for the Sun newspaper, Deborah has documented the many chemo, radiotherapy sessions and surgery she’s had since

During her treatment, Deborah told followers on Instagram ‘By my general lack of being on here (dancing!), that Things have moved (in the wrong direction) very quickly cancer wise.’ Pictured: Deborah James undergoing a scan at the Royal Marsden Hospital in London

  • In 2019, she had a procedure known as CyberKnife, a highly targeted form of radiotherapy to attack an inoperable lymph node close to her liver
  •  The pandemic’s impact on cancer services saw her campaign for care to continue as normal and, earlier this year, she launched the ITV’s Lorraine’s ‘No Butts’ campaign, raising awareness on bowel cancer symptoms 
  • Since last year, she has been taking new experimental drugs as part of a trial after her oncology team gave her the green light to do so
  • August, Deborah revealed that scans she’s had in recent days have revealed her cancer has gone in the ‘wrong direction very quickly’  
  • She told followers she would be taking a break on social media over the weekend to ‘snuggle’ with her family ahead of more scans
  • The mother-of-two said a new ‘rapidly-growing’ tumour near her liver had wrapped itself around her bowel 
  • On October 1, Deborah celebrates her 40th birthday 
  • By October 18, the mother-of-two told her followers her chemotherapy is working
  • Days later, she was rushed to A&E with ‘spiking 40 degree temperatures’  

 

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