Merseyside bowel cancer patient says she was inspired by Dame Deborah James

Karen Cowley speaks to ITV Granada Reports' journalist Rachel Townsend.

A woman from Merseyside says Dame Deborah James made wearing a stoma bag 'normal' for her after she was diagnosed with bowel cancer.

Doctors told Karen Cowley, from Newton-le-Springs, that she was living with bowel cancer in December 2016, the same year as Dame Deborah.

She said she always felt a special connection with the podcaster host and campaigner, who passed away on Tuesday, 28 June, surrounded by her family.

Dame Deborah died on Tuesday aged 40

Speaking to ITV News', Karen Cowley said: "There were a lot of similarities between her journey and my own.

"One of the ways that helped a great deal was when I was suffering from the effects of wearing a stoma for 18 months.

"I had an ileostomy and she made that normal for me."

Charities have said Dame Deborah James' efforts to fundraise and spread awareness for bowel cancer will save lives and give people "precious time with their loved ones".

The former headteacher was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2016 and kept more than 500,000 followers up to date with her treatments - and raised awareness.

Dame Deborah was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2016

Speaking to ITV News Genevieve Edwards, Chief Executive, Bowel Cancer UK said: "She just never stopped raising awareness.

"She never stopped supporting people even when she was going through difficult times herself and right to the last minute she campaigned and set up a Bowelbabe fund.

"She's just done a phenomenal amount and she will be huge missed. My thoughts are with her family today."

Karen has been on a clinical trial at the Clatterbridge Cancer centre in Liverpool for 14 months and has been told by her consultant she is responding positively.

"She said: "I've never been more cared for to be honest and I'm really looked after when I'm there.

"In between I have blood tests and scans so anything that would raise a red flag to them - I'm sure they would respond to straight away."

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