‘Lifesaver’ Dame Deborah James sparks symptom checks across UK

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The 40-year-old campaigner and podcaster’s last message urged people to “check your poo” and live with “Rebellious Hope” – her favourite saying. NHS chief executive Amanda Pritchard has revealed there was a ten-fold increase in visits to its bowel cancer webpages – from 2,000 to 23,274 – the day after the mum-of-two died.

Ms Pritchard said: “There is no doubt about it – this has been lifesaving.”

Within the announcement of her death on Tuesday on her Bowelbabe social media, Dame Deborah said: “Find a life worth enjoying; take risks; love deeply; have no regrets; and always, always have rebellious hope. And finally, check your poo – it could just save your life.” x

Her Bowelbabe Fund has raised more than £7million for cancer research in addition to her work increasing awareness as host of the BBC’s You, Me and the Big C podcast.

Ms Pritchard added: “Dame Deborah is an inspiration. Her death has touched the nation. People often don’t feel comfortable speaking about their cancer diagnosis and treatment. But Deborah speaking out has prompted thousands more people to check the symptoms.

“We must now continue Deborah’s fantastic work. Don’t be prudish about poo, get checked out if you have worrying signs or symptoms.”

Health Secretary Sajid Javid applauded the campaigner, who received a Damehood from Prince William in May.

He said: “Dame Deborah James has left an incredible legacy and changed the national conversation
around cancer.

“These figures reflect the powerful and life-saving impact she has had. Having lost my father to bowel cancer, I know how devastating this disease can be.”

Bowel cancer is England’s fourth most common cancer, with around 37,000 new cases in England each year.

Main symptoms include tummy discomfort, changes in bowel habits, blood in poo, unexpected weight loss and unexplained fatigue.

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