BBC podcast presenter Deborah James, who has stage four bowel cancer, has revealed how she is suffering a ‘really rough time’ after being  rushed to A&E last week.

The mother-of-two and former head turner cancer campaigner from London has been living with stage 4 bowel cancer since December 2016. She was first diagnosed in December 2016. She was told she might not live past five years. 

Last week, she announced she had gone to A&E in the early hours of the morning after suffering from a fever and dehydration.

And yesterday she shared an update on Instagram, writing: ‘Apologies for being quiet on here but it turns out I’m pretty ill at the moment. Thank you for all the messages that brought a smile on my face during a very difficult time.

BBC podcast presenter Deborah James, who has stage four bowel cancer, has revealed how she is suffering a 'really rough time' after being rushed to A&E last week

BBC podcast presenter Deborah James, who has stage four bowel cancer, has revealed how she is suffering a ‘really rough time’ after being rushed to A&E last week

Yesterday she shared an update on Instagram in which she urged her followers not to take good health for granted

Yesterday, she posted an update to Instagram in which she encouraged her followers not take good health for granted 

She continued: ‘I’m using all my energy to recover and today is the first day I’ve felt able to give you an update.

“Despite my desperate desire to be free from these terrible side effects of cancer treatment, it seemed like my body had other ideas. 

“On Wednesday, I was admitted for what we now know to be another septic infection. I was so ill my incredible husband had to blue light me quickly to A&E. 

‘This time all my Bowel issues have come to ahead and I’m currently dealing with a condition called infectious colitis. I have a bacterial intestinal infection that is causing me colitis (Bowel inflammation). It is also present in my bloodstream.

The social media star has documented her battle with cancer online since being diagnosed and campaigned for better awareness around bowel cancer diagnosis

The social media star has documented her battle against cancer online since being diagnosed. She also campaigns for greater awareness of bowel cancer.

“I had no idea you could poo so many times in 5 minutes! I’m 8 months pregnant. I’m being looked after well, pumped continually full of antibiotics and fluids but of course feel incredibly weak and tired from no sleep.’

She added: ‘Whilst I’ve always wanted to show every side of cancer, right now living through this all is hard and isn’t something I want even my kids to be witness to. 

‘I’m just getting through it day by day, second by second and my family have been incredible at rallying around to support. 

‘I’m making slow progress and hoping things continue to improve.’

She thanked fans for their support and said: “Keep telling people close to you that your love is unconditional.” It is such a blessing to have good health. Do not take it for granted.

Last week, she shared a snap to Instagram where she could be seen in laying in a hospital bed attached to a drip delivering intravenous medicine and fluids.

She wrote: “Not how you want to start Wednesday!” Had to go to A&E, was spiking 40 degree temperatures and was so dehydrated from not being able to keep anything in me!’

Mother-of-two continued, “Have spent 8 hours being pumped with antibiotics and fluids – lots of fluids! Feeling better already! This is your fly by visit!

Last week she revealed how she was rushed to A&E after experiencing 'spiking 40 degree temperatures' on Tuesday (pictured)

Last week she revealed how she was rushed to A&E after experiencing ‘spiking 40 degree temperatures’ on Tuesday (pictured)

Deborah has lived with stage 4 bowel cancer since December 2016 when she was first diagnosed. She was told at an early stage that she might not live past five years. 


Colorectal cancer, also known as bowel cancer, affects the large intestinal tract, which is comprised of the colon, rectum, and stomach.

These tumours often develop from polyps, which are pre-cancerous growths.

These are the symptoms:

  • Bleeding from below
  • Blood on stools
  • A change in bowel habits lasting at most three weeks
  • Unexplained weight gain
  • Extreme, unexplained tiredness
  • Abdominal pain

While most cases don’t have a clear cause for concern, there are some people who are more at risk if they do: 

  • Are there more than 50
  • Have a family history of the condition
  • Have a personal history with polyps in their bowel
  • Crohn’s disease and inflammatory bowel disease are common.
  • Living a life of misery  

The treatment usually involves surgery and chemo- or radiotherapy.

Nine out of ten people diagnosed with stage one bowel carcinoma survive for five years or longer.

If it is diagnosed later, this drops significantly. 

Bowel Cancer UK estimates that there are more than 41.200 people diagnosed with bowel cancer each year in the UK. 

According to the National Cancer Institute, it affects approximately 40 per 100,000 Americans annually.

She was informed earlier this summer that she had an aggressive new cancer near her liver. The tumor had wrapped around her bile tube, and she needed to be admitted to hospital.  

The Instagram post comes just hours after Deborah was seen modelling various active wear outfits for her followers – and two days after she revealed her chemotherapy is working.

The podcast host admitted she has had the ‘hardest three month’ of her adult life. She posted to social media over the weekend and said that her battle with the disease was now on the mend.  Words that I wanted to hear but didn’t allow me to imagine what might happen.

She continued, “I think that I’ve been preparing actually for the worst.” It was extremely difficult to wait for the scan results. I feel like I’ve been to the end of the world. 

“These are the first scans I have had since my previous drugs stopped working. My liver was damaged and I developed sepsis. 

“We started me back with what was my first line of ‘nuclear cancer therapy’, and it’s fair for me to say that it’s a shock. 

“Despite the little bits of smiles, glam dresses and moments that make my day smile (because they are the moments that make my smile), the hardest three months since my diagnosis (physically and mentally) has been behind closed doors.

She revealed doctors have said she is ‘stable’, adding: ‘ Essentially the cancer that was rapidly growing and causing my liver to fail, has been halted at least temporarily.

“And my lymnodes even shrink!” Are you cured? No. Will I ever be – Do I still have active breast cancer? Unfortunately yes. 

“But this buys you more time.” At least until my next scan!

She added that she is ‘on the knees’ after undergoing years of intensive chemotherapy. 

“But it hasn’t really sink in because I’ve been sleeping for the past 3 days due the chemo and haven’t had any of the brief windows of prancing that you might notice!

Earlier this summer, she was told she had an aggressive new tumour near her liver that had wrapped itself around her bile duct - requiring a life-saving stay in hospital

An aggressive new tumour had developed near her liver. She was admitted to hospital earlier in the summer.

In an emotional Instagram post shared two days ago by the podcast host, she said she had felt 'floored' by

Two days ago, the podcast host shared an emotional Instagram post in which she stated that she felt ‘floored’ and had been unable to communicate her feelings. 

She ended the post by writing, “But cheers for the blessing of another day. Another chance, more options, more life I didn’t think I’d see!” One day at the time!

Weeks earlier, Deborah celebrated her 40th birthday after fearing it was a milestone she would never see.   

She posted on Instagram that she had originally planned a low-key dinner and dance party last week for her closest friends.

Deborah shared snaps on social media that showed her house decorated in balloons with friends and family seated down to a candle-lit meal before the party. 

Later, she shared clips from her performance of a speech she said she had ‘written in a bathroom on her smartphone’ prior to the event. 

And last month, she shared snaps from her wild 40th birthday party after fearing it was a milestone she would never see (pictured left, with popstar Sophie Ellis-Bextor who performed at the event)

She shared photos from her wild 40th birthday party last month after she was afraid it would be a milestone that she would never see. (pictured left, Sophie Ellis-Bextor, who performed at the event). 

James advised people to consult a doctor if there was any concern following the death of Sarah Harding, Girls Aloud’s star from breast cancer.

She stated that she was not putting the blame on herself, but that she had gotten so frustrated at not being able to get to the GP sooner.

Sarah died on September 5, just 13 months after she was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Her devastated family posted her death on social media.

James shared his thoughts on Sarah’s tragic death. He said that it was ‘hard-hitting.’ He also added, “It’s breast cancer, but it’s also knowing your body and understanding what the difference is between early and later diagnosis.”

“It’s tragic that these headlines are necessary to remind us that we all will be affected by the one in two cases of cancer that will occur in our lifetimes.


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

Deborah (left) joined Lauren Mahon, Rachael Bland, and Rachael Bland (right) to present the award winning podcast You, Me, the Big C. Bland, who died from breast cancer in September 2005, was tragically killed. Steve Bland is now the co-host of the show.

  • The West London mother of two, a deputy head, was later diagnosed with incurable bowel carcinoma in December 2016.
  • Deborah was the ‘Bowel Babe’ after sharing her experiences with the disease via social media. 
  • She was one of three presenters for Radio 5 Live’s You, Me and the Big C in 2018, which was created by her late cohost Rachael Bland. 
  • Bland, a Welsh journalist and presenter, was diagnosed with terminal breast cancer on September 5th 2018.
  • Lauren Mahon, Deborah’s co-host, continues to present the show. Rachael Bland, Steve Bland, joins the pair.
  • Deborah has documented her many radiotherapy, chemotherapy and surgery experiences on social media and in her column in the Sun newspaper.
Last week, 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

Deborah said last week to her Instagram followers, “By my general inability to be on here (dancing!)!”), that Things have moved (in the wrong direction) very quickly cancer wise.’ Pictured: Deborah James, undergoing a scan at Royal Marsden Hospital in London

  • CyberKnife was a highly targeted radiotherapy procedure that she underwent in 2019 to treat an inoperable lymph node near 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 
  • She has been taking experimental drugs since last year after her oncology staff gave her permission to do so.
  • August, Deborah said that the scans she had recently revealed her cancer has advanced in a’very rapid’ manner.  
  • She informed her followers that she would be taking a weekend off social media to’snuggle with her family’ before continuing scans.
  • The mother of two said a new, rapidly growing tumour had wrapped itself around her bowel.
  • Deborah must start chemotherapy again, as her cancer has stopped responding to the drugs she’s currently taking.
  • Deborah turns 40 on October 1.