Intended for healthcare professionals


Deborah James: podcaster and cancer campaigner

BMJ 2022; 377 doi: (Published 30 June 2022) Cite this as: BMJ 2022;377:o1614 photograph of Deborah James
  1. John Illman
  1. London, UK
  1. john{at}
Credit: David Bennett/Getty Images

Deborah James (later Dame Deborah) was a deputy head teacher aged 35 when she found in 2016 that she had stage three bowel cancer.

She turned her diagnosis into an “incredible force for good,” according to Genevieve Edwards, chief executive of Bowel Cancer UK, of which James was patron. “Her tireless campaigning to raise awareness of bowel cancer symptoms will have saved countless lives,” Edwards said.

James candidly logged the course of her disease to her Instagram audience which climbed from 300 000 to 500 000 followers towards the end of her life.

Bowel Cancer UK says that James has “forever changed the way people talk about bowel cancer” through her openness and honesty about her diagnosis and experience of the disease. Her catchphrases included: “Check your poo—it might save your life.”

After conferring her damehood in …

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