SUN columnist Deborah James has revealed her only hope to shrink her inoperable tumour is chemo – but her liver isn’t strong enough for the treatment.
The mum-of-two was first diagnosed with stage 4 bowel cancer in 2016 and has shared her journey with Sun readers ever since.
In her latest column, Deborah shared: “Blood tests have shown my tumour markers are creeping up, and at the same time my liver has started to fail.
“I have a tumour that’s growing rapidly, wrapping itself around my bile duct, and obstructing my liver.
“My only hope is chemo to shrink the inoperable tumour – but my liver isn’t strong enough to withstand that brutal treatment.”
Deborah was diagnosed with stage 4 bowel cancer four-and-a-half years ago and the stats said she wouldn’t survive a year.
Her chances of making it to five years was about eight per cent, but she is now six months away from that milestone.
Twice she has been told that she is cancer 'free', but she revealed earlier this year that it had returned.
She wrote that she has been kept alive for the past two years on a “cocktail of drugs”, but they have started to be less effective.
Deborah, who also hosts the BBC's You, Me And The Big C podcast, said: “They weren’t plain sailing and I suffered awful side effects, severe skin reactions and even temporary loss of vision.
“But my response to these drugs had been phenomenal. So good in fact that I was told not once, but twice, that I had ‘no sign of any active disease’ – that’s the best it gets when you’re stage 4, like me.
“The extra six months they gave me quickly turned into a year, 18 months, two years.
“Each and every single day was another 24 hours seeing my kids Hugo, 13 and Eloise, 11, grow up, time with my husband and rock Seb, our family and friends.
“But, as with all good things, sadly they have come to an end.”
She has revealed how just as chemo looked like the new plan of action, her liver started to struggle.
Deborah explained: “Blood test after blood test showed my liver function was getting worse and worse, until I reached a critical point last week.
“I was going more jaundiced by the day, my skin was itching and my pee was the colour of Coke.
“I felt sick and for the first time since being diagnosed I felt like my body was starting to shut down.
“For the first time, I had an option – a good option in the form of chemo – but my body wasn’t strong enough to take it.
“For the first time, I started to see that I might not survive this.”
On Monday Deborah went to hospital to have a stent fitted in her liver, to try and clear the obstruction that's causing it to fail.
If this proves successful, she will be able to have chemo to try and blast the tumour, and this could buy her more time.
KNOWING BOWEL CANCER SIGNS COULD SAVE YOUR LIFE
BOWEL cancer is the fourth most common form of the disease in the UK – but the second deadliest, claiming around 16,000 lives a year.
Yet it can be cured, if it’s diagnosed early enough.
Fewer than one in ten people survive bowel cancer if it’s picked up at stage 4, but detected at stage 1 – before it’s spread – and more than nine in ten patients will live five years or longer.
There are two ways to ensure early diagnosis, screening and awareness of the symptoms.
Brits have been subjected to a postcode lottery when it comes to bowel cancer screening, with tests sent out in Scotland from 50, while people in England, Wales and Northern Ireland have to wait until they are 60.
That’s why The Sun launched the No Time 2 Lose campaign, calling on the Government to lower the screening age, to save thousands of lives a year.
In the summer of 2018, Matt Hancock agreed, in a victory for The Sun and campaigners – yet three years on and screening at 50 has yet to be widely rolled out.
While screening is an important part of early diagnosis, so is knowing the symptoms and acting if you spot the signs.
The five red-flag symptoms are:
- Bleeding from the back passage, or blood in your poo
- A change in your normal toilet habits – going more or less often for example
- Pain or lump in your tummy
- Extreme tiredness for no real reason
- Unexplained weight loss
If you’re worried, don’t be embarrassed and speak to your GP – doctors see and deal with bowel problems all the time.
She said: “The earliest signs are good, my pee is starting to look less like Coke and my jaundice is easing up.
“I’ve been guilty in the past of slipping into a false sense of security, living life to the full and dancing my way through life with stage 4 cancer.
“Right now, no dancing, running or positive vibes feel like they are going to help.
“This is a healthy dose of reality that’s slapped me square in the face.”
Deborah previously said how her 13th op might be her last chance.
And thousands have ignored cancer symptoms in Covid lockdown – are YOU one of them?
Deborah wrote how small changes we all make NOW can help us all realise the dream of a cancer-free future.
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