DEBORAH James say she is facing another “uncertain phase” with her stage 4 bowel cancer, after a “scary six months”.
The Sun columnist, 40, is waiting to find out what the next steps of her treatment will be in the New Year, after having a failed op last week.
The mum-of-two has chronicalled her journey with cancer with optimism and humour, sharing each milestone of her battle with the world.
After being told she had stage four bowel cancer in 2016, the former teacher began writing her column for the Sun, Thing’s Cancer Made Me Say, and fast became a national treasure.
Deborah was told she didn’t have long left. But she has become part of the eight per cent of cases with her type of cancer who live for at least five years following diagnosis.
Asked how she was on BBC Breakfast this morning, Deborah said: “I’m okay thank you. Well, okay probably doesn't sum up what I've been through through the last couple of months.
“The truth is I'm okay today but I'm certainly riding the cancer rollercoaster, and right now I'm in another uncertain phase of one step at a time, not really sure what happens next.
“I think it's fair to say the past six months have been very scary for me in terms of my health.
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“But right now I have options in front of me, I’m going to grab them in the New Year, and I'm not going to overthink where the future might take me, because I'm happy to be here today.”
Deborah’s liver started to fail in the summer because a rapidly growing tumour close to wrapped itself around her bile duct, and she was given an emergency stent.
Last week, doctors were going to replace a stent in Deborah’s liver as a standard procedure – which was meant to be straightforward but turned into a nightmare, Deborah said.
It was discovered that Deborah's bile duct had become "even more annoyingly complex", and the stent was not replaceable.
Deborah now has no stent and “desperately needs some out of the box quick thinking”.
She said this morning: “For me the best present I could have this year [for Christmas] would be told my body is fit enough to be back on treatment.
“That sounds quite random to say that. But the thing I want is to start chemo again, because it's my only chance.”
COPING WITH THE DARKNESS
Deborah today reflected on the darkness she has experienced with cancer, as she prepares for another Christmas with her two teenage children.
She told the BBC: “When I was diagnosed, literally last week it was five years ago, and I heard ‘you have cancer’, I went into this incredibly dark hole, where I spent weeks, probably months, about three months, trying to search for ‘me’.
“I essentially wanted to know which dot I would be on those graphs, in terms of those hideous statistics which I suggest nobody looks at.
“And on top of that, I wanted to know what my life with cancer would look like. A, would I still be here? And B, how do I put one foot in front of the other?
“I couldn't find it, so I hope by sharing that story, I am that person that somebody who's been diagnosed with cancer can look at and say ‘oh, she can live with cancer, so can I’.”
Deborah said the documentation of her journey helps her “cope and get through the darkness”.
But she added: “Sometimes when I'm in a hospital bed, I don't feel like doing any of that. Behind closed doors at three in the morning, when the tears start, it's a very different story.
“And I look at my two children – I've got a 12 and 13-year-old now – my heart breaks, it absolutely breaks.
“Putting on a brave face – or not, I don’t half the time – is one of the hardest things to do.
“Telling my children five years ago ‘mummy has cancer’ – and we know from the data that over 1,000 people are told you have cancer every day – there are families up and down the country having to do this, and my message to those families, if you are one of them, is it’s about taking things a step at the time.”
Recently Deborah has been on a treatment break in the past few weeks in order to recover from a turbulent year.
Despite the scare with her liver failure in the summer, fixing the problem had allowed her to go back on life-saving nuclear chemo.
In October, Deborah was told that her nuclear chemo had worked and that her cancer was “stable”, meaning she could take a few weeks off the treatment.
She wrote on her Instagram @bowelbabe: “Obviously ASAP I’ll be aiming to be back on treatment because at some point my cancer will grow again, soon I suspect! But even a few extra weeks to breathe is WAY longer than I thought I’d be granted!”
Deborah, writing in her latest column for the Sun, said that putting chemo on the back burner had fuelled anxiety about cancer regrowth.
And now, she is desperate to get back on it and have more time with her two teenage children.
“The sooner I can get the drugs back into me, the better my chance of seeing next Christmas, and dare I hope, the one after that,” Deborah said.
This year the cancer campaigner celebrated the milestone of her fortieth birthday in October, which she never imagined she would reach.
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