Dame Deborah James, cancer campaigner and podcast host, dies aged 40

Cancer activist and podcast host Dame Deborah James has died at the age of 40, her family has announced.

Dame Deborah, known online as Bowel Babe, was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2016 and revealed in May that she was receiving end-of-life care at her parents’ home in Woking, with her husband Sebastien and their two children on hand.

A statement from her family on Instagram said: “We are deeply saddened to announce the death of Dame Deborah James; the most wonderful wife, daughter, sister, mom. Deborah passed away peacefully today, surrounded by her family.

“Deborah, whom many of you will know as Bowelbabe, was an inspiration and we are incredibly proud of her and her work and dedication to charity campaigns, fundraising and her endless efforts to raise awareness of cancer that has touched so many lives. Deborah shared her experience with the world to raise awareness, break down barriers, break taboos and change the conversation about cancer. Even in her most challenging moments, her determination to raise money and raise awareness was inspiring.

“Thank you for giving us time privately as a family, and we look forward to continuing Deborah’s legacy well into the future through the @bowelbabefund. Thank you for playing your part in her journey, you are all incredible.

“And a few last things from Deborah…”Find a life worth enjoying; Take risks; deeply grounded love; have no regrets; and always, always have rebellious hopes. And finally, check your poop – it could save your life.’”

Deborah was known for fronting the podcast You, Me And The Big C, which she co-founded with Lauren Mahon and the late Rachael Bland.

She received a Damehood from the Duke of Cambridge at her home in May for her ‘tiring campaign’ efforts, after raising millions of pounds for cancer charities.

The campaigner has been raising awareness of colon cancer for years and has raised more than £6.7 million through her Bowelbabe fund on JustGiving for Cancer Research UK, Bowel Cancer UK and the Royal Marsden Cancer Charity.

Dame Deborah with her brother Benjamin James at Royal Ascot 2022

David M. Benett via Getty Images

Last month, Dame Deborah announced that she had written another book entitled How To Live When You Could Be Dead, which documents what she’s learned about having a positive mindset when faced with life’s biggest challenges.

Despite not being published until August, the book shot to number one on Amazon’s list through pre-orders, with her royalties going to her Bowelbabe Fund.

She followed this up by releasing a clothing line with In The Style, with 100% of the profits going to the cancer charity.

Deborah, pictured in 2019, has raised millions of pounds for cancer charities
Deborah, pictured in 2019, has raised millions of pounds for cancer charities

David M. Benett via Getty Images

Dame Deborah made her final TV appearance on a recent episode of E4’s Embarrassing Bodies, where she encouraged “breaking taboos” associated with bowel movements because it “can save lives” by helping people recognize the symptoms of colon cancer.

Recorded while still in hospital, she said: “We all poop, our favorite celebrities poop! Let’s break down a little bit, break those taboos, because frankly, that’s going to save lives. Let’s spread the word.”

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