Deborah James says she's 'putting her hope in science'

‘I’m living when I shouldn’t be’: BBC podcast presenter Deborah James who has incurable stage 4 cancer says she’s ‘putting her hope in science’ after new combination of drugs saved her life

  •  Deborah James, 38, had received the all-clear from cancer back in January 
  • However, doctors later found evidence that the cancer returned to her bowel 
  • She has had surgery and is taking and ground-breaking cocktail of drugs 
  • Credited new drugs which will be rolled out across NHS with saving her life  

BBC podcast presenter Deborah James says she’s ‘putting her hope in science’ after a new combination of drugs ‘saved her life’. 

Mother-of-two Deborah, 38, who presents the Radio 5 Live podcast ‘You, me and the Big C’, was recently told doctors had discovered new signs of her bowel cancer which required surgery. 

She has since revealed the disease is ‘stable’ thanks to a suite of ground-breaking drugs, pioneered by Dutch cancer researcher René Bernards, which have just been approved for use across the NHS. 

Appearing on Lorraine, the podcaster revealed she’s feeling ‘delicate’ after Monday’s surgery, but became emotional as she declared she’s ‘living when she shouldn’t be’ and that she’s ‘riding on the wings of science’.  

Mother-of-two Deborah James, 38, was recently told doctors had discovered new signs of her bowel cancer which required surgery

BBC podcast presenter Deborah says she’s ‘putting her hope in science’ after new combination of drugs ‘saved her life’

‘I think for me, I call it riding on the wings of science,’ said Deborah, ‘And I think if nothing else, Covid has taught us to celebrate how important science is. I’m now putting my hope once again in science.’ 

The presenter has a specific type of bowel cancer called BRAF mutation, and in 2012 met Bernards in the Netherlands, who has just been given the green light to start a new clinical trial, the Beacon Trial. 

She told her oncologist fought ‘tooth and nail’ for her to receive compassionate use of the drugs, which include Braftovi, and the mother has been taking the non-chemotherapy drugs since August last year.   

She explained: ‘He told me about the trial he was doing and it was running here in the UK, and data was showing it was really prolonging the life of people like me. 

Appearing on Lorraine with Dutch cancer researcher René Bernards (right), the podcaster revealed she’s feeling ‘delicate’ after Monday’s surgery

‘My oncologist fought tooth and nail for me to get compassionate use of the drug, and nearly two years later the drugs have taken me to no signs of disease. 

‘Essentially I’m living when I shouldn’t be living and it’s made me very emotional to get this approved for others.’ 

 While there are no longer signs of the disease, Deborah admitted she felt drained after her procedure earlier this week.

‘I’m delicate to say the least’,she said,  ‘It’s quite a major surgery. Forgive me if I don’t sound myself. 

‘Learning how to walk and breathe again for the first time, it’s like I’m at the bottom of the mountain, but I’m going to climb it’.  

The host of the BBC’s You, Me And The Big C podcast, had earlier said the operation ‘went well’ and she had been released from hospital 

Despite the return of her cancer – which had already required operations to remove 15 tumours and 24 rounds of chemotherapy plus radiotherapy – she has set her sights on a trio of achievements next year: to run the London Marathon again, celebrate her 40th birthday and reach the five-year mark of living with cancer. 

The cancer first reappeared in May, when two cancerous lymph nodes were removed. The latest is in a third node.

Approval by drugs regulators means about 1,400 advanced bowel cancer patients will now get the Braftovi combination. Deborah said it would bring hope to thousands.

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