Deborah James Made a Dame – But I Would So Much Prefer Her to Have More Time With Her Family

Deborah james

Editor’s Blog

It’s hard not to watch bowel cancer sufferer Deborah James share videos of what are expected to be her last days without shedding a tear.  What an incredible woman and my heart goes out to her and her family and it’s wonderful to hear that she is to be made a Dame – I cannot think of anyone more worthy.

For me, hearing of Deborah’s last conversations with her family is a major trigger and she’s right, nobody should have to have those conversations.  I had those conversations over 40 years ago with my own Mum, and believe me, they haven’t gotten any easier since then and an hour after watching, I’m still sobbing.  The Dame title is wonderful, and a fitting tribute but what would she give for more time?  What would you give to give her that time?  Right now I am sure that everyone who has seen Deborah’s fight would do anything to help her, and sadly, because we can’t, we can at least celebrate her life by donating to her campaign and by making her a Dame.

The sad truth is, however, we are annoyingly still seeing health authorities deny women of cancer drugs that can buy them more time with their families.

Only this week, we reported that NICE provisionally turned down the life extending drug Trodelvy for use on the NHS in England and Wales, despite it being recommended for women with incurable triple negative secondary breast cancer in Scotland.  This means women like Deborah, only battling a different type of  cancer, will be dying earlier than they need to despite a life extending treatment being available, and accessible in a different part of the UK.

At this point, there are no miracle drugs that can save Deborah or buy her more time – even if they were approved and available and that’s another heartbreak because she is just so inspirational and will never be forgotten.  However, if her incredible bravery has touched you, as well as donating to Deborah’s cancer research fundraising campaign, I’d please ask you to consider signing Breast Cancer Now‘s open letter to Giilead (who have the power to make their drug more affordable), and to NHS England and NICE to review their decisions.  Behind every single decision they make is a person, a Mum, a human being who just wants more time with their families.

The good news is 50% of people diagnosed with cancer now survive for more than ten years, and cancer survival rates have doubled since I lost my Mum – but there are so many much loved women losing their lives too early – and every one of them is a massive personal tragedy – a tragedy like Deborah and her family now face.

Please, where there are treatments available for women with cancers, surely we owe it to Deborah and the thousands like her to make sure they are accessible so fewer people have to endure this heartbreak – before it’s too late for them, too.  You can sign the open letter here: breastcancernow.org/get-involved/campaign-us/time-trodelvy