Northern Ireland woman Alison Graham finds inspiration in Deborah James while fighting bowel cancer

Alison Graham first felt unwell in November 2019 when she began suffering from debilitating fatigue, bleeding and pains at the top of her legs. 

The mum of three started to undergo regular blood tests after a viral infection was detected. 

In 2020 just as the Covid pandemic struck, Alison's condition got worse. 

Whilst waiting for an NHS consultant's appointment, the 58-year-old decided to go private and in June 2020, Alison was diagnosed with rectal cancer.

Just weeks later, she was told the cancer had spread to her lungs. 

"And then we were told that my treatment would be palliative not curative. I was told 18 to 24 months was the statistical life span that I could expect," Alison told UTV    

Alison has since undergone chemo and radiotherapy, with the last session in July last year when she got her first reprieve.

"I have been getting three monthly reprieves since. The last time that they told me that some of the tumours have shrunk, so I've been very fortunate, this is not where I expected to be," she said

Two weeks ago Alison's first grandchild Alfie turned one.

She says: "I didn't know if I would get to see him or if I'd be here, and I am and it's wonderful."

Alison has taken a lot of inspiration from Dame Deborah James, the Bowel Babe campaigner who has been raising millions of pounds for charity whilst receiving end-of-life care. 

"She really gives me hope, an amazing woman, and look what she's doing now. I can't think of anybody that does not know about bowel cancer and if they don't - they are living under a rock."

Alison continued: "I look at how Deborah handles herself and how she has promoted everything with such a positive attitude even at this stage now where it's hospice care and I think 'Yeah we can do this, we definitely can do this'."

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