Dean Gaffney: ‘I thought they were being dramatic, but I’m A Celebrity doctors saved my life’

Dean Gaffney has credited the medical team of ITV’s I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! for catching a sign of bowel cancer early and “saving” his life.

The former EastEnders star said he underwent a medical examination in 2020 as he was being considered for an appearance on the show’s Covid-safe version at Gwrych Castle in Wales.

The doctors flagged that Gaffney was "losing blood somewhere" after routine blood tests and initially thought he could have anaemia or an iron deficiency.

Speaking to the Mirror, Gaffney, 45, admitted he “thought they were being a bit over the top”, but following a colonoscopy, doctors found a number of polyps in his large intestine and referred him for surgery immediately.

“There is no doubt I’m A Celeb and its medical team saved my life. I might not be here today if it wasn’t for them finding what they did,” he said.

Gaffney divulged that he was admitted to hospital “within hours” and was “under general anaesthetic” when “they took it out”.

Recalling the moments after he woke up from the surgery, Gaffney said the doctor told him: “Had you not come to us today, in three years that could have turned to bowel cancer. You’ve been very lucky.”

“I still remember his exact words,” Gaffney said. “I feel so, so lucky. It’s made me so careful about checking my stools.”

Gaffney wants to raise awareness around bowel cancer, following in the footsteps of the late Dame Deborah James, who died last June of the disease.

Dean Gaffney left EastEnders in 2010 (Getty Images)
Dean Gaffney left EastEnders in 2010 (Getty Images)

He described the Bowelbabe activist and fundraiser as “an inspiration to so many”.

“I have so much respect for her fight and the awareness she raised for bowel cancer,” he said. “If I can do a small fraction of that for men, it’d make me very happy.”

Detailing what the doctors had found in his large intestine, Gaffney said the polyps were “massive” and one was “20mm, which is big for a polyp”.

“They didn’t mess about, they put me under general anaesthetic, operated and burned the polyps away. When I came round, I could see the doctors were slightly angry with me and it was serious,” he continued.

“They didn’t mince their words and said how lucky I was it had been found now. I was stunned.”

The doctors wanted to know why Gaffney had not noticed blood in his stool, to which he replied that he did not “make a habit of looking at my stools”.

“Any time I’ve ever seen a bit of red I just think, maybe I’ve had peri-peri sauce,” he added.

“I’m so grateful to the people on the show for bringing it to my attention. I check my stools all the time now. I’d urge others to do it too.”