Deborah James, who has built an enormous following during a five-year battle with a rare cancer, has penned a heartbreaking goodbye.
It’s her final goodbye.
Deborah James, a beloved UK radio host and columnist known to fans as BowelBabe, penned a touching farewell to readers as her body “just can’t continue anymore” after a five-year bout with stage four bowel cancer.
“The message I never wanted to write. We have tried everything, but my body simply isn’t playing ball,” the 40-year-old Londoner announced to her more than 479,000 Instagram followers.
“My active care has stopped and I am now moved to hospice at home care, with my incredible family all around me and the focus is on making sure I’m not in pain and spending time with them,” added the mother of two.
James was diagnosed with her rare form of cancer, B-RAF mutation, just days before Christmas 2016 — at age 34. After receiving the devastating news, she became a cancer warrior.
James bravely chronicled her harrowing health journey with humour and grace in her regular column in The Sun, while raising awareness and money for various cancer charities.
In her final column, published Tuesday, she expressed gratitude to her supporters and family and urged others to “have rebellious hope.”
Deborah James’ heartbreaking final column
This is the column I never wanted to write. My final one.
In over five years of writing about how I thought it would be my final Christmas, how I wouldn’t see my 40th birthday or see my kids go to secondary school – I never envisaged writing the one where I would actually say goodbye.
I think it’s been the rebellious hope in me.
The small glimmers of options and far-flung chances that I’ve always believed in. Maybe, just maybe, I will be the one that will be the outlier and live forever!
I suppose the reality is that I am still the outlier – so my story isn’t one of sadness it’s one of the extra years that I gained thanks to research and knowing that, because of my case studies, future Deborahs with the same rare bowel cancer, B-RAF mutation, might go on to live longer lives.
When I was first diagnosed in 2016, it was beyond comprehensible for me to fathom the idea that I had more chance of dying in the first year than I had of living.
I wanted so badly to live and have beaten the odds ever since, until now.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realise that my last six months have been pretty hellish health wise.
After a medical emergency in January, where I suffered an internal bleed, it’s difficult for me to understand how I survived.
Then there’s the countless operations to try and stent my bile duct to stop my liver failing.
The last six months have arguably been the hardest of my whole cancer journey – the sheer unrelenting medicalisation of my body has been heartbreaking to experience and the moments of being out of hospital and pain free have become more and more rare and fleeting.
I have essentially lived in the hospital since January 6, with only limited company – and while I am eternally grateful for all the doctors and nurses that have gone above and beyond to help me, we have all decided there is a point at which our efforts have become fruitless.
It’s not about lack of access to the latest fancy drugs – it’s not about feeling hard done by that I couldn’t get a lifesaving operation – it’s simply that I have an extremely difficult cancer in an extremely difficult area of my body that even today’s cutting edge technology and techniques cannot cure.
So I sadly find myself in the place that I never wanted to be – the next crossroads.
My body is so emaciated that I have no choice but to surrender to the inevitable.
Four bouts of back-to-back sepsis has left me with zero reserves and zero bouncebackability.
Sadly the last week has seen a rapid decline in my physical ability, meaning that my husband and everyone in my beautiful extended family have had to carry me around, from sitting, to the bed, to the toilet – I have no ability to use my legs or arms anymore.
I have never known tiredness like it and yet I fight daily to stay awake enough to complete a to-do list of things that I want to check off before I die.
How long do I have left?
I suppose it’s a question I keep on asking myself – it’s been a very emotional last five days.
I have had to leave the warm confinements of The Royal Marsden where the daily monitoring of my wee or bloods is just the norm.
I have now entered into end-of-life hospice care at home, where there is no monitoring and we take everything day by day — it’s all just about symptom management and trying to make me comfortable and meeting my desires to try and have the best quality death that I can.
You can of course imagine that these conversations are both heartbreaking and reassuring – but emotionally knowing that it is actually going to happen is the hardest thing to fathom.
I can’t help wondering if there isn’t a deal to be done with the devil to stop and reverse this at the last minute.
I have done what I have always wanted to do which is go to my parents house and be surrounded by my incredible family and watch in awe as they somehow manage to smile through the heartbreak.
And it reassures me to know that while I may not be here soon, things will be OK because together they can get through this, the hardest of adversities.
I’ve gone into mental overdrive and with the help of my husband, Seb, we have made sure that the kids have memory boxes – we’ve bought them gifts for certain key future birthdays.
Work ends are being tied up.
I do not want to die – I can’t get my head around the idea that I will not see my kids’ weddings or see them grow up – that I will no longer be a part of life that I love so much.
I am not brave – I am not dignified going towards my death – I am simply a scared girl who is doing something she has no choice in but I know I am grateful for the life that I have had.
It’s been a crazy whirlwind but I’ve done things that I never thought I could or would do in my life.
Hopefully through all the campaigning I may even have saved other people’s lives and most importantly had fun trying my utmost to try and learn to live with cancer.
We all know it is very hard to do, and yet when I look back at the last five years I have some of my best memories ever in between the vomit and the tears.
I suppose it would be weird to leave my column without saying a few final things: find a life worth enjoying; take risks; love deeply; have no regrets; and always, always have rebellious hope.
And finally, check your poo – it might just save your life.
This article was originally published by The Sun and reproduced with permission
Originally published as Brave warrior says goodbye: ‘I’m simply a scared girl who is about to die’