Watch: Dame Deborah James calls for brands to include bowel cancer symptoms on toilet roll
Dame Deborah James is urging big supermarket brands to include bowel cancer symptoms on toilet rolls.
The 40-year-old You, Me, And The Big C presenter, who was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2016, revealed last month that she is now in end-of-life hospice care at home, surrounded by her loved ones.
Her call for action on ITV's Lorraine comes after retailer Marks and Spencer announced plans to add information on signs of the disease to its packaging.
During Tuesday’s edition of the breakfast show, Dame Deborah appeared to congratulate her friend Cara Hoofe – who was diagnosed with bowel cancer at 32 – on successfully pitching the idea of putting symptoms on loo roll wrapping to her employer M&S, to which they agreed.
From next month, there will also be new signage about bowel cancer symptoms inside stores and across support centre toilets.
“I’m over the moon, I don’t really have words to describe how I feel about M&S, my company doing this to raise awareness around bowel cancer, especially because we’ve got such a huge customer base as well,” Hoofe said.
In a video message, Dame Deborah, called for other companies to follow M&S's lead.
“Congratulations, Cara," she began. "I'm so pleased that you are talking about the hard work you have put in and what you have achieved.
"I know we've both gone through bowel cancer and we've spoken so many times about getting the signs and symptoms on loo roll. But you finally did it. And I am really, really proud of you for doing that.
“It’s the start of things to come. I think we should do a big shout out to other companies now saying, like, ‘Where's your signs and symptoms?
"Forget about the puppies — I’m bored of the puppies," she continued. "We need actual information signposted on those loo rolls. So I'm hoping that lots of other big brands will now go, ‘Yeah, hang on. This makes massive sense. This is what we need to be doing.’
"So I can't wait to see that happen. And a massive, massive well done to you,” she concluded her message.
Following the message Hoofe went on to explain how Dame Deborah has been a huge inspiration to her.
“I met Deborah in the earlier days of her diagnosis through Bowel Cancer UK, I think one of the first times we met in person was at a carol concert for the charity where she was speaking,” she said.
“We’ve kept in contact through messaging throughout our treatment and she’s been a support to me and I really hope I’ve been a support to her as well. This whole idea for the loo roll came off the back of how Deborah carries herself in everyday life.
“I’m probably a little more reserved than Deborah and follow processes, and when I submitted the idea, I sat there and thought, ‘She’d just tell me, 'It’s not good enough. What can we do?’ I then swiftly got in touch with our chairman and CEOs and tried to create a noise around it and it worked.”
The changes are part of the retailer’s partnership with Bowel Cancer UK, with customers also soon able to scan a QR code which will redirect them to Bowel Cancer UK’s website to find out more.
Commenting on the initiative, Genevieve Edwards, the chief executive of Bowel Cancer UK, said: “This brilliant initiative will help millions of people across the UK know what to look out for and will undoubtedly save lives. We’re incredibly grateful to Cara and the team for their commitment to making this happen.”
Last month Dame Deborah revealed she had teamed up with fashion brand In The Style to launch a charity t-shirt with all of the proceeds going to the BowelBabe Fund.
The £15 t-shirt features her famous ‘Rebellious Hope’ slogan emblazoned across the front.
Prior to the launch of the t-shirt, Dame Deborah had been working on her own collection with the fashion brand.
While the main collection isn’t ready yet, Dame Deborah revealed on Instagram that she had already worn one of the dresses when she met Prince William who personally delivered her damehood to her family home.
The BowelBabe Fund for Cancer Research UK was founded by Dame Deborah and her family to help fund clinical trials and research into new treatments for cancer patients, all while raising awareness of bowel cancer.
In less than one week, The BowelBabe Fund raised more than £6,000,000 in donations.
'Lorraine' airs weekdays at 9am on ITV & ITV Hub.