Dame Deborah James has urged her fans to ‘find a life worth enjoying, take risks, have no regrets and always check your poo’ in a final message to her army of supporters.
The podcaster tragically passed away following her five-year battle with bowel cancer, her family announced this evening.
Sharing the news to Instagram , her loved ones wrote: ‘We are deeply saddened to announce the death of Dame Deborah James; the most amazing wife, daughter, sister, mummy. Deborah passed away peacefully today, surrounded by her family.’
The presenter, 40, was diagnosed with stage four bowel cancer in December 2016 and received palliative care at her parents’ home in Woking, Surrey after being told she may not live beyond five years – a milestone that passed in the autumn of 2021.
She spent her time raising awareness about the disease leaving ‘no stone unturned’ during her search for ‘magic medicine miracle’ and even designed an InTheStyle clothing collection emblazoned with the words ‘rebellious hope’ after revealing the slogan ‘got her through the last five years’.
In an emotional statement announcing the news of her death, her family shared the final words penned by the inspirational podcaster.
She told fans: ‘Find a life worth enjoying, take risks, love deeply, have no regrets, and always, always have rebellious hope.
‘And finally, check your poo – it could just save your life.’
Dame Deborah James has urged her fans to ‘find a life worth enjoying, take risks, have no regrets and always check your poo’ in a final message to her army of supporters
The podcaster tragically passed away following her five-year battle with bowel cancer, her family announced this evening
The presenter, 40, was diagnosed with stage four bowel cancer in December 2016 and received palliative care at her parents’ home in Woking, Surrey after being told she may not live beyond five years – a milestone that passed in the autumn of 2021
Deborah – who has two children Hugo, 14, and Eloise, 12, with her husband Sebastien – was constantly labelled ‘inspirational’ by fans after candidly sharing her struggles on social media, as well as on Radio 5 Live’s You, Me and the Big C, of which she was one of three presenters.
On May 9, the mother-of-two shared a heartbreaking ‘goodbye’ message to her 470,000 Instagram followers, revealing she was being moved into hospice-at-home care, while ‘surrounded by family’, because ‘my body simply isn’t playing ball.’
While she said at the time that no one knew how long she may live, she recently revealed she was given just days when she was released from hospital last month.
Deborah also launched her Bowelbabe Fund for cancer research, which has received more than £6.5 million in donations.
She was made a dame by the Duke of Cambridge at her family home, with William praising her for ‘going above and beyond to make a very special memory’.
He later called her ‘incredible’ telling staff at the Royal Marsden who had treated her: ‘She is a brave and inspirational woman.’
Deborah – who has two children Hugo, 14, and Eloise, 12, with her husband Sebastien – was constantly labelled ‘inspirational’ by fans after candidly sharing her struggles on social media
On May 9, the mother-of-two shared a heartbreaking ‘goodbye’ message to her 470,000 Instagram followers, revealing she was being moved into hospice-at-home care, while ‘surrounded by family’
BOWEL CANCER: THE SYMPTOMS YOU SHOULDN’T IGNORE
Bowel, or colorectal, cancer affects the large bowel, which is made up of the colon and rectum.
Such tumours usually develop from pre-cancerous growths, called polyps.
- Bleeding from the bottom
- Blood in stools
- A change in bowel habits lasting at least three weeks
- Unexplained weight loss
- Extreme, unexplained tiredness
- Abdominal pain
Most cases have no clear cause, however, people are more at risk if they:
- Are over 50
- Have a family history of the condition
- Have a personal history of polyps in their bowel
- Suffer from inflammatory bowel disease, such as Crohn’s disease
- Lead an unhealthy lifestyle
Treatment usually involves surgery, and chemo- and radiotherapy.
More than nine out of 10 people with stage one bowel cancer survive five years or more after their diagnosis.
This drops significantly if it is diagnosed in later stages.
According to Bowel Cancer UK figures, more than 41,200 people are diagnosed with bowel cancer every year in the UK.
It affects around 40 per 100,000 adults per year in the US, according to the National Cancer Institute.
The star broke her social media silence last week to reveal that toilet paper brand Andrex will start listing bowel cancer symptoms on its packaging.
Deborah campaigned for supermarkets to put symptoms of bowel cancer on their toilet rolls so that people were more aware of the signs to watch out for in a bid to catch it early.
Andrex announced the news earlier today on social media, writing: ‘Thank you for the brilliant work you are doing to raise awareness of bowel cancer.’
Dame Deborah shared the post, adding a caption saying: ’28 million packs! Coming soon! @andrexuk. Puppy we are embracing the poo.’
The company, which has donated £65,000 to the charity, teamed up with Bowel Cancer UK to put the information on packaging and is aiming to have the symptoms on all of their packaging within the next year.
Additionally, there will be a QR code on the packs which redirects people to Bowel Cancer UK’s website where they can find more information.
Deborah also appeared in an episode of Embarrassing Bodies – filmed earlier this year – and revealed she had a ‘gut instinct that something wasn’t right’ before receiving her bowel cancer diagnosis.
During her final TV appearance on E4’s Embarrassing Bodies on June 16, Deborah explained: ‘I started going to the poo – we need to say that – eight times a day. And I used to be a once-a-day kind of girl.
‘Then I started getting really tired and I remember drinking loads of cups of coffee just to try and keep myself awake. Then I started losing loads of weight and I started having blood in my poo.’
It was the combination of these changes, Deborah said, that led her to having a ‘gut instinct that something wasn’t right.
Deborah was diagnosed ‘late’ with incurable bowel cancer in 2016. She had frequently said that as a vegetarian runner, she was the last person doctors expected to get the disease.
After sharing her experiences on living with the illness on social media, Deborah became known as the ‘Bowel Babe’ and in 2018, she joined Lauren Mahon and Rachael Bland to present the award-winning podcast You, Me and the Big C on Radio 5 Live.
Bland tragically died of breast cancer on September 5 that year; her husband Steve Bland now co-presents the show.
It had been a difficult year for Deborah, who in previous years had defied the odds by running 5K races and taking part in triathlons.
Speaking about her cancer battle, Deborah said she had been ‘consumed by anger’
Family: Dame Deborah (centre, with husband Sebastien Bowen, left, and children Eloise, 12 and Hugo, 14) was awarded a damehood by Prince William last month
The campaigner previously revealed she had started her ‘to-do death list’ to support son Hugo, 14, and daughter, Eloise, 12. Pictured: Deborah with her husband Sebastien Bowen in 2019
BBC podcast host Deborah James revealed in April after she was discharged after more than a month in hospital. Pictured, leaving the Royal Marsden Hospital
Deborah was diagnosed ‘late’ with incurable bowel cancer in 2016. She had frequently said that as a vegetarian runner, she was the last person doctors expected to get the disease
However, she told Lorraine Kelly earlier this year that she spent ’80 per cent’ of it in hospital receiving treatment after suffering sepsis and a traumatic varicose vein bleed.
In January, she said the ‘trauma’ of nearly dying from the bleed was still ‘very raw and real’ as she returned home after three weeks in hospital.
Speaking on her You, Me and the Big C podcast with co-host Steve Bland, Deborah said: ‘I was in a state, an absolute state. I was flummoxed. I can’t describe it. I just survived something I never thought… I thought that was it. I thought I was a goner.
‘How do you process that I said my goodbyes, I thought that was it, I thought that was the end of my life, how do you stop reliving that trauma? I did not know what to do with myself.
‘And it’s amazing how you suddenly go back to the things you realise you can do, which is to chat into a microphone or write – whatever your normal coping mechanism are even in a crisis.
‘I’m always somebody that has to have a bit of a purpose so I was like: ‘If I’m going through this I need each and every day to find a purpose’. Obviously the purpose is to live but it also gave me a structure during the day. It gave me something to do (in hospital).
‘I thought I feel so awful, not just physically, but mentally. I thought I knew what rock bottom was. I thought I knew what tough was and I didn’t. I cracked – there’s no embarrassment in saying that. I hit a new low that I never knew existed.’
HOW DEPUTY HEAD TURNED SOCIAL MEDIA STAR HAS TRANSFORMED BOWEL CANCER AWARENESS
In 2018, Deborah (left) joined Lauren Mahon (front) and Rachael Bland (right) to present the award-winning podcast You, Me and the Big C on Radio 5 Live. Bland tragically died of breast cancer on September 5th that year; her husband Steve Bland now co-presents the show
- In December 2016, the West London mother-of-two, a deputy head, was diagnosed ‘late’ with incurable bowel cancer
- After sharing her experiences on living with the disease on social media, Deborah became known as the ‘Bowel Babe’
- In 2018, she became one of three presenters on Radio 5 Live’s You, Me and the Big C, which was conceived by her late co-host Rachael Bland
- On September 5th 2018, Welsh journalist and presenter Bland, diagnosed with terminal breast cancer, died at the age of 40
- Deborah and her co-host Lauren Mahon continue to present the show, with Steve Bland, Rachael’s husband, joining the duo
- On social media and in her column for the Sun newspaper, Deborah has documented the many chemo, radiotherapy sessions and surgery she’s had since
During her treatment, Deborah told followers on Instagram ‘By my general lack of being on here (dancing!), that Things have moved (in the wrong direction) very quickly cancer wise.’ Pictured: Deborah James undergoing a scan at the Royal Marsden Hospital in London
- In 2019, she had a procedure known as CyberKnife, a highly targeted form of radiotherapy to attack an inoperable lymph node close to her liver
- The pandemic’s impact on cancer services saw her campaign for care to continue as normal and, earlier this year, she launched the ITV’s Lorraine’s ‘No Butts’ campaign, raising awareness on bowel cancer symptoms
- Since last year, she has been taking new experimental drugs as part of a trial after her oncology team gave her the green light to do so
- August, Deborah revealed that scans she’s had in recent days have revealed her cancer has gone in the ‘wrong direction very quickly’
- She told followers she would be taking a break on social media over the weekend to ‘snuggle’ with her family ahead of more scans
- The mother-of-two said a new ‘rapidly-growing’ tumour near her liver had wrapped itself around her bowel
- On October 1, Deborah celebrates her 40th birthday
- By October 18, the mother-of-two told her followers her chemotherapy is working
- Days later, she was rushed to A&E with ‘spiking 40 degree temperatures’
- In November, she reveals she is unable to walk for more than 20 minutes and remains ‘very weak’
- By December, Deborah said she was ‘not sure what her options were’ after her liver stent ‘stopped working’
- In January, she had five operations in 10 days after nearly dying in an acute medical emergency
- January 25, Deborah returns home from hospital after three weeks
- March 14, the mother-of-two is back in hospital as an in-patient after suffering from septic infection
- In April, she concerned fans with snaps after suffering ‘a rough few days’
- April 14, the mother-of-two tells fans she has been discharged from hospital but calls the situation ‘very tough’
- April 27, she tells Lorraine that she has spent ’80 per cent’ of the year in hospital
- May 9 – Deborah announces she has moved to hospice care
- June 28 – Deborah’s loved ones tragically reveal the podcaster has passed away in a touching Instagram post