Dame Deborah James: Sussex man explains why you shouldn't ignore the signs of bowel cancer

Dame Deborah James’s Bowelbabe fund has raised more than £6,000,000 with funds getting higher every day.

Dame Deborah, a former headteacher, was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2016. She recently revealed that she is no longer receiving active care and she doesn’t know how long she has left.

Bowel cancer is the fourth most common cancer in the UK and the second biggest cancer killer.

Nearly 43,000 people are diagnosed with it every year in the UK.

John Anton, 62 from Hove, was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2010 and has been in remission for eight years.

He had a history of Colitis since he was 31 years old, and when he was diagnosed with bowel cancer he underwent surgery, chemotherapy and targeted radiation.

He said: “Thankfully I have not experienced any further recurrence of my Bowel Cancer since we last spoke in 2019. I no longer have CT scans, but every six months my GP gives me a blood test to check my CEA levels and these have remained at acceptable levels. I very much realise I am one of the lucky ones.”

John is part of a Parliamentary event organised by Bowel Cancer UK and Deborah (Bowelbabe) to support the 'Early Diagnosis Saves Lives' campaign.

John with bowel cancer and mental health campaigner, Dafydd Jones.

He said: “When I first heard the news that BowelBabe's five year treatment path was finally running out of road, I was absolutely devastated, so sorry for her wonderful family who will lose a fantastic wife, daughter and mother far too early. But then came two bits of amazingly uplifting news - the incredible BowelBabeFund JustGiving page that has in the space of a few short days reached over £6m, and the totally unique story of her Damehood and Prince William visiting her in her parents garden to bestow her award, which just goes to show that Bowelbabe will be a great force for bowel cancer awareness in both life and beyond - and her legacy will help thousands of other BC patients well into the future... what a woman.”

Over 16,000 people die from bowel cancer each year, making it the UK’s second biggest cancer killer. However, the disease is treatable and curable, especially if diagnosed early. An estimated nine in ten people will survive bowel cancer if diagnosed at the earliest stage.

The symptoms of bowel cancer can include: bleeding from your bottom and/or blood in your poo, a persistent and unexplained change in bowel habit, unexplained weight loss, extreme tiredness for no obvious reason or a pain or lump in your tummy.

He added: “I think I said this the last time we spoke, and it’s truer today than it has ever been.

Deborah James and Alsina - ex-Bowel Cancer UK CEO

"Many people ignore the symptoms as they are too embarrassed to see their GP - the 'Poo Taboo'. Most people with these symptoms don’t have bowel cancer. Other health problems can cause similar symptoms. But if you have one or more of these, or if things just don’t feel right, go to see your GP. it's incredibly important that if you have any fears about any symptoms of bowel cancer or any cancer - be persistent and see your GP - and keep seeing them until you feel satisfied that your symptoms are being taken seriously.”

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Don’t ignore the symptoms- know the signs of bowel cancer