The bowel cancer body checks Deborah James wanted you to know | The Sun

DAME Deborah James has been an inspiration to millions of people.

The 40-year-old wasn't shy when it came to breaking the poo taboo and it's a lesson we should all carry with us.

Sun writer Debs was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2016 and her family this week announced her death, a month after she had been moved to palliative care.

If bowel cancer is caught early, then most patients have surgery and are able to avoid aggressive forms of chemo and radiotherapy.

The mum-of-two was passionate about making everyone aware of the signs and symptoms of bowel cancer and wanted people to understand that they are 'never too young'.

Debs previously said that she had once seen bowel cancer as an 'old man's disease'.

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"Actually unfortunately, I’ve met so many young people,  it’s one of the largest rising cancer in people under 50, it’s quite shocking actually – it‘s the last thing thought it would be," she said.

Deborah was pivotal in changing the way people think about cancer, and wanted everyone to know the key body checks that could help save your life.

Check your poo

Whether it was strutting her stuff in a poo emoji costume, or taking to Instagram to help people to understand – Deborah was keen to make the talk of what's in your toilet bowel common place.

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My daughter would be without her mum if it wasn't for Deborah James

When her family announced her death on Tuesday evening. They included a note from Deborah, part of which read: "Check your poo – it could just save your life."

Deborah also previously told of her own toilet habits: "I started going to the poo – we need to say that – eight times a day. And I used to be a once a day kind of girl."

Anything that isn't normal for you, whether it's going to the loo more often, not going at all, or loose bowel movements – if you notice abnormalities, you should get them checked out.

Never too young

Deborah was just 35-years-old when she got her diagnosis.

Bowel cancer screening in the UK is offered to people in their 50s.

Debs, along with The Sun's 'No Time 2 Lose' campaign, helped to lower the screening age – which had previously been for people 60 and over.

Feeling tired

This is another key sign of bowel cancer, one that Deborah herself experienced.

She previously said: "I started getting really tired and I remember drinking loads of cups of coffee just to try and keep myself awake."

Is this normal

Many people can sometimes miss symptoms of cancer as they can be confused with being run down.

As a busy mum-of-two, this had been the same for Deborah and she had put her new symptoms down to her lifestyle.

She said: "I was really tired, but I was a working mum of two, I was a deputy headteacher, so I put it down to being really busy."

Sore tummy

Having a lump or pain in your tummy is another sign of bowel cancer.

In many cases, it might be nothing to worry about, but a new lump or one that has changed, definitely warrants a trip to the doctor's office.

Weight loss

Unexplained weight loss is another key sign of cancer, something Deborah also experienced.

"Then I started losing loads of weight and I started having blood in my poo."

It was the combination of these changes, Deborah said, that led her to having a 'gut instinct that something wasn't right.

Lasting legacy

Deborah being so vocal about the signs of cancer has helped those struggling with symptoms to come forward and get treatment.

One woman told how her daughter would have been without a mum if it hadn't been for the tireless campaigner.

Teresa believes she would not be alive today if she had not seen Deborah on Lorraine Kelly’s TV show.

She said: “I had symptoms 12 months before I was diagnosed but thought it was irritable bowel syndrome or stress."

Receptionist Gemma Crossley also said she owes her life to BowelBabe — but feels guilty that she is alive to see her kids grow up while she will not.

“I’d spent years with bowel issues but had never thought it was cancer.”

She then saw a post from Debs and recalled: “It was a real red flag for me.

“I went to the GP who found a lump and some blood.”

Property firm worker Patricia Lever was told many times by docs her bowel problems were nothing to worry about — but Deborah inspired her to keep trying.

Patricia, 58, said: “I’d always been sent home with cream or told it was IBS or health anxiety.

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“My daughter called me one day in early 2021 and told me a woman called Deborah James was on Lorraine and I should tune in.

“I’d been fobbed off but because of Deborah and what I saw on TV, I knew I needed to get some answers.”

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