After Deborah James was diagnosed with bowel cancer, she used her platform to tell others about the ups and downs of her path to health.
James, 40, who has a son Hugo, 14, and daughter Eloise, 12, with husband Sebastian Bowen, previously reported that she did not have cancer after a three-year struggle with a life-threatening stage 4 diagnosis.
“It’s a little crazy (and I honestly haven’t processed it for several reasons), but right now I don’t have any signs of cancer in my body!! Which seems crazy considering that at one point I had 15 tumors!” she wrote on Instagram in 2020.
When the cancer returned, the BBC podcast host used social media to highlight her happiest moments along with news about her health. “I am very much “living” with cancer. I hope that I am much more than just my diagnosis — it is not a story “only” about cancer. It’s about celebrating the moments between them,” James, who started “You, Me and the Big C” in 2018, wrote via Instagram in January 2022. “I like to celebrate life. It’s all about taking it every day! Step by step and be grateful for another sunrise.”
After almost a six-year battle, James said that after constant visits to the hospital, she ended up in a hospice. “I don’t think anyone can say that the last 6 months have been kind! It’s heartbreaking, but I am surrounded by so much love that if something can help me, I hope it will help,” she said in May 2022. “In more than 5 years of writing how I thought this would be my Last Christmas, how I wouldn’t live to see my 40th birthday and see my kids go to high school-I never imagined that I would write one where I would really say goodbye. I think it was a rebellious hope in me.”
At the time, James admitted that she was “absolutely overwhelmed” by the love she received online. “I just can’t thank people enough for their generosity. It means so much to me,” James told the BBC the same month, noting that her fundraising had reached new heights. “It makes me feel completely loved. But it makes me feel that in the end we are all together and we all want to change something and say, “You know what? Fuck you, cancer.” You know, we can do better.”
James noted that she hopes her honesty on social media will inspire more people to support cancer research. “We can do better for people, and we just need to show them who is the boss in the house,” she continued. “Over the past five years, I have been campaigning, talking about awareness, sharing my story for a specific reason — laughing, giggling, telling that you can live with cancer, revealing what cancer can look like. But ultimately, what I really want is that I don’t want other Deborahs to have to go through this. We know that if we catch cancer at an early stage, we can cure it.”
Scroll down James’ inspirational quotes about her health and approach to life:
More than her diagnosis
“I’ve been living with Cancer for 5 years, but I hope I’m more than cancer. Sometimes it still amazes me that people have an opinion about what Cancer people should say, how they should act and what they should say. Oh,” she wrote on Instagram in January 2022.
For the author of the book F*** You Cancer, living with health problems meant continuing to celebrate his achievements.
“I think sometimes you can forget that the biggest challenge and celebration is to weave a real life through Cancer — despite how difficult it can be. Sometimes I’m afraid that once stained with the brush of Cancer, there is an expectation that forever we should talk only about cancer,” she continued. “So that people forget about the emotional losses that may arise. Historical years of talking and writing on every topic related to this. More than anything in the world, I love when I see stories of people living with cancer — celebrating life!”
Celebrating important events
In February 2022, James revealed that she had reached an “important milestone” in her journey. “I started active treatment again after more than 5 months of hope and prayer, but I didn’t quite live up to previous expectations,” she shared on social media, later reflecting on other joys in her life. “Sometimes we can get really upset about our situation, but then if we stopped and realized that it’s the little things (like watching your daughter smash it playing lacrosse and becoming ‘that mom on the side’) it’s actually a world away from everything I could imagine last month in a hospital room.”
She added: “This week I was reminded (thanks @claire.singer) “Enjoy the little things in life, because one day you will look back and realize that these were big things.”
Against the background of complications, the former professor spoke frankly about overcoming obstacles with her diagnosis.
“I know I’ve been silent here lately, but the last week has especially pushed me to use every ounce of energy to find the strength to get through every day and return home.