The one lesson I’ve learned from life: Deborah James says getting older is a privilege
- Deborah James, 39, who lives in London, is known for co-hosting a BBC podcast
- She said the cancer she has been fighting since 2016 returned this time last year
- Believes celebrating her 40th birthday this October is a privilege
The 39-year-old is a deputyheadteacher- turned-presenter, best known for the BBC podcast You, Me & the Big C about life with cancer, which she’s co-hosted since 2018. Last year she published a book, F*** You Cancer: How To Face The Big C, Live Your Life And Still Be Yourself. She lives in London with her husband and children, aged 13 and 11.
This time last year, the cancer I’ve been fighting since 2016 returned in my lymph nodes.
I’d had a few months of all-clear — the first since diagnosis — and I’d started to dream of all the things I could do: run a marathon; further my career in broadcasting; travel. But then came Covid, the first lockdown and more treatment.
Deborah James, 39, (pictured) who lives in London, explained why celebrating her 40th birthday in October is a privilege
In November last year, I needed major surgery. Since the children were back at school by then, and I had to isolate before and after the surgery to be Covid-secure, I moved in with Mum and Dad for more than a month.
They were amazing. I had two collapsed lungs and was in a great deal of pain, so they’d take turns sleeping with me on the sofa (it hurt too much to lie in bed), so they could help with medication. It was almost like I was a little girl again. That time was precious to me.
From my parents’ house, I could watch my children thriving from afar. They kept on reminding me that I was staying away so that, in the end, I’d have more time with them. But I could also see that they were having a brilliant time with their dad. Every night they’d play chess, board games and cards. At weekends they’d go for long walks or runs.
It was a different dynamic because I wasn’t there. When I’m around, it’s messy and about making things. But as I watched this wonderful relationship in all its complexity and love, I realised that life will go on just fine without me, and that’s incredibly comforting.
I’ve learned that in life we really never know what’s round the corner. That’s why I launched the No Butts bowel cancer awareness campaign with Lorraine Kelly. It’s time to smash the poo taboo. Being aware of possibly suspicious changes in your body is one way of taking a bit of control back.
It’s my 40th birthday this October and it’s a privilege to be getting older. Time is precious — spend it with the people you love.
For more information on the No Butts campaign, go to itv.com/lorraine/articles/no-butts