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Wales Online

Richard Madeley appears emotional as he sends message to Dame Deborah James

Emotions were running high on Good Morning Britain today (May 16) as presenters Richard Madeley and Susanna Reid discussed Dame Deborah James with guest Lauren Mahon. Dame Deborah, a much-loved journalist and radio presenter, is terminally ill with bowel cancer and has raised more than £6.2 million (and counting) through her Just Giving page, to raise money in support of Bowel Cancer research.

The surge in donations came following Deborah's heart-breaking Twitter post on May 9 which read: "The tweet I never wanted to write. The time has come to say goodbye. 5 years to prepare, doesn’t make it any easy. I’m under hospice at home care, & I’m spending my time surrounded by my family. Please buy me (a drink) to see me out and raise vital funds."

On Good Morning Britain, Deborah's friend and fellow presenter on BBC Radio Five Live, Lauren Mahon said: "I wont get cringey because I know you hate that but on national television I want to tell you that I love you very much, and we couldn't be prouder of you. We love you"

Richard Madeley echoed the sentiment with emotion in his voice saying: "That's the word isn't it. We do love you Deborah, even those of us who've never met you. We think you're wonderful, absolutely wonderful."

Since being diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2016, Deborah has given candid accounts of her treatment on the BBC's You, Me and the Big C podcast, and has now set up a fund for cancer charities. You can read the full message here.

She is now having end-of-life care at her parents' house surrounded by her family because it is "were I want to die", and it meant the family home in London could remain home for her children, Hugo, 14 and Eloise, 12. without the "medical equipment scars" in their memories. Her final message urged people: "Please, please just enjoy life because it's so precious. All I want right now is more time and more life."

And she had a caution for people to "check your poo" for signs of bowel or other cancers, adding: "Come on, I can't leave on on any other word."

Deborah James (BBC)

The symptoms of bowel cancer can be subtle and do not necessarily make you feel ill. The NHS says that more than 90 per cent of people with bowel cancer have 1 of the following combinations of symptoms:

  • a persistent change in bowel habit – pooing more often, with looser, runnier poos and sometimes tummy/abdominal pain
  • blood in the poo without other symptoms of piles (haemorrhoids) – this makes it unlikely the cause is haemorrhoids
  • abdominal pain, discomfort or bloating always brought on by eating – sometimes resulting in a reduction in the amount of food eaten and weight loss

Deborah has said that five years after being diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer, knowing she is now nearing the end is "still shocking", and she broke down while talking about leaving her children.

"I have always said I don't want to leave a stone unturned, I don't think there is a stone we haven't tried to overturn in order to make my liver work again," she said. "In order to get my body functioning. But unfortunately, I am exhausted, I am absolutely exhausted and we have got to the point now where I know we can't do anything more."

To donate to the Bowel Babe fun, head to justgiving.com/campaign/BowelbabeFund