Bowel cancer tests at record high ‘thanks to Dame Deborah James’

Health chiefs say the number of people being screened for bowel cancer hit a record following the death of campaigner Dame Deborah James.

Dame Deborah, also known for her social media host Bowel Babe, raised awareness about the disease until her death on June 28 at the age of 40.

According to the NHS, between May and July 170,500 people were referred for treatment with suspected gastrointestinal cancer.

This number increased by more than 30,000 people over the same period in 2021 and nearly 80,000 times higher than the same period two years ago.

Dame Deborah James, with husband Sebastien Bowen on a private tour at the Chelsea Flower Show (The Harkness Rose Company / PA) (PA Media)

The figures also show that bowel cancer referrals hit an all-time high in the second week of July, shortly after Dame Deborah’s death, up 60% from pre-pandemic levels.

The past three months have also seen nearly 200,000 people visit the NHS website to check for symptoms of the disease.

National Cancer Director Dame Cally Palmer said: “Thanks to Dame Deborah James’s courageous and relentless campaign, bowel cancer has been brought to the forefront of the national conversation about preventing cancer as much as possible. the sooner the better, and the fact that we’ve seen record numbers of people come in for bowel cancer screening shows that people are taking this disease seriously and talking to their doctors. their family about it.

“It’s important that we continue Dame Deborah’s work to raise awareness about bowel cancer and save more lives, so for anyone who has noticed symptoms, go ahead. “

Genevieve Edwards, chief executive officer at Bowel Cancer UK, said: “The number of people visiting has never been higher, with tens of thousands of people searching for information about the symptoms of cancer. disease since the tragic death of Dame Deborah James.

“The number of people affected by bowel cancer also skyrocketed when posting on our forums, contacting our Ask the Nurse service, and we know that people have visited our GP. they do hear her story.”

At the beginning of May, Dame Deborah revealed she had stopped active treatment and was in hospice care at her parents’ home in Woking, Surrey, with her husband and their two children.

The podcaster was diagnosed in 2016 and keeps her one million Instagram followers up to date with her treatments.

Her candid posts about her progress and diagnosis, including a video of her dancing her way through treatment, have won critical acclaim from the public as well as the media. pine.

Along with Lauren Mahon and Rachael Bland, she released the You, Me And The Big C podcast in 2018.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said: “If there is any honor that is well-deserved, this is it.”

More than anyone, I know she loves life, even more so when it becomes so short and every minute that passes.

Dame Deborah later said she felt “honored and shocked” to be considered for the honor.

Her husband Sebastien Bowen spoke of the difficulties of the last few months he has been through with the former vice-chancellor, whom he married in France in 2008.

Mr Bowen told the Times: “She’s making the most of every last moment. But that’s her. That’s how I will always remember Deborah – her ability to embrace life in the worst of times.

“More than anyone, I know she loves life, even more so when it becomes so short and every minute counts to the second.”

He continued: “She was so weak that she couldn’t do many things on her own, which she found frustrating because she was so independent by nature.

“She is terminally paralyzed from the waist down and faces a psychological battle over her new handicapped reality. She can’t even go into the kitchen to get food, clean or dress herself.

“I won’t pretend it’s easy. It was a new experience for all of us and we had to find our feet, but it also brought us closer to her and to each other.”

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