Deborah James latest tributes: BowelBabe's final 'inspirational' message as hero dies from bowel cancer aged 40 | The Sun

DEBORAH James, otherwise known as BowelBabe, has died "peacefully" from bowel cancer at age 40.

The Dame was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer just days before Christmas in 2016.

In a final message published by her family yesterday, Dame Deborah said: "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."

Since her diagnosis, the mum-of-two has shared her journey on Instagram and with Sun readers in her column Things Cancer Made Me Say.

She went on to present the award-winning BBC podcast You, Me and the Big C with fellow cancer patients Rachael Bland, who passed away in September 2018, Lauren Mahon and Rachael’s husband Steve.

Deborah is survived by her children, Eloise, 12, and Hugo, 14 and husband, Sebastien.

Donate here to keep raising money for Deborah's BowelBabe fund.

Read our Deborah James blog for the latest news and updates…

  • Jennifer Korn

    Deborah and her mother spent her last few days together

    Just days ago, Heather congratulated her daughter Deborah after Tesco made a huge change to its loo roll in a bid to save millions.

    The supermarket will print the signs and symptoms of bowel cancer on its toilet paper packs after The Sun writer launched a campaign.

    Heather shared an image of the new campaign from Tesco, writing: "Well done Deborah and a big thank you to @tescofood for your support and £300,000 donation to the @bowelbabefund".

    Last week, the mother and daughter enjoyed a pint in the sunshine in front of the canal at a country pub in Woking.

    Posting to Instagram, Deborah said: "A lovely relaxing lunch in the sunshine."

  • Jennifer Korn

    Deborah's mum says her 'heart is broken'

    In a heartbreaking Instagram story on her page @bowelgran, her mum Heather wrote "love you forever" beside a clip of Deborah dancing.

    She also said "my heart is broken" after the family confirmed Deborah's death in an emotional post on the platform.

  • Jennifer Korn

    Deborah chose not to see friends

    “Dying is really hard. I’ve been consumed by anger this week, in all honesty, I’ve been a real bitch," Deborah said.

    "I keep shouting at people and pushing them away. I’m angry at what’s happening to me. I don’t want to die.”

    It is why Dame Debs, who has children Hugo, 14, and Eloise, 12, with husband Seb, has taken the hard decision not to see close friends, and only spend time with family.

    “I don’t want my friends to see me like this,” she says, with sadness in her voice. “I don’t want them to remember me this way.”

  • Jennifer Korn

    Others pay tribute

    Piers Morgan described her as “a truly remarkable and inspiring woman” adding it was “such sad news”.

    And ITV presenter Charlotte Hawkins tweeted: “Oh no, heartbreaking news that @bowelbabe has left us. What an inspiration, a truly special person who saved lives & did so much to help others.

    "Who showed that even a terminal diagnosis wasn’t going to stop her living life to the full. So much love to her family and friends.”

    Carol Vorderman paid tribute in a tweet, saying: “Your incredible spirit will live on”.

    Alison Hammond added: "Such sad news. RIP Dame Deborah James! Condolences to her family."

  • Jennifer Korn

    Deputy Labour leader tweets tribute

    Deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner wrote on Twitter: “Rest in peace Deborah James. What an incredible, fierce, bright and brilliant woman.

    "An absolutely extraordinary campaigner. Thank you for your rebellious hope and the millions you have inspired @bowelbabe."

    "Thinking of your many loved ones."

  • Jennifer Korn

    NHS Chief Executive pays tribute

    NHS Chief Executive, Amanda Pritchard, said on Twitter: "On behalf of the whole NHS, I want to offer my condolences to the loved ones of Deborah James.

    "Her amazing attitude was humbling and a lesson to us all.

    "Her fundraising has helped countless cancer patients and her determination to raise awareness will have saved many lives."

  • Jennifer Korn

    Keir Starmer calls Deborah 'inspirational'

    Sir Keir Starmer praised Deborah's charity work in a tribute shared on Twitter.

    The Labour leader wrote: "Deeply sad news.

    "Dame Deborah James’ charity work was truly inspirational — even in the most challenging moments, she continued to raise awareness about bowel cancer and impacted so many people’s lives.

    "Our thoughts are with her family and friends at this difficult time."

  • Jennifer Korn

    Boris Johnson remembers Deborah

    Boris Johnson said he was "terribly saddened" by the news of Dame Deborah's passing.

    The PM wrote: "What an inspiration she was to so many.

    "The awareness she brought to bowel cancer and the research her campaigning has funded will be her enduring legacy. Because of her, many many lives will be saved."

  • Jennifer Korn

    Deborah's message to her supporters

    Deborah also shared a strong message to her supporters in her final column:

    Thank you if you are someone over the last five years who has read one of my columns; sent me a message; listened to a You, Me and the Big C podcast; engaged with me on social media; or spotted me on Lorraine shouting about No Butts. 

    Your virtual love has always made me feel like I have an army of support behind me. 

    It goes without saying that I will forever be in debt to the incredible team that have looked after me for five years at The Royal Marsden and beyond.

    I feel confident that we have left no stone unturned. 

    When I was first diagnosed I was told we would throw the kitchen sink at this, you have more than done that, and then some. 

    I will forever be in awe of their skill and passion towards me. 

  • Jennifer Korn

    'I do not want to die'

    In her final column, Deborah wrote about her thoughts on dying:

    I do not want to die – I can’t get my head around the idea that I will not see my kids' weddings or see them grow up – that I will no longer be a part of life that I love so much. 

    I am not brave – I am not dignified going towards my death – I am simply a scared girl who is doing something she has no choice in but I know I am grateful for the life that I have had.

    It’s been a crazy whirlwind but I’ve done things that I never thought I could or would do in my life.

    Hopefully through all the campaigning I may even have saved other people’s lives and most importantly had fun trying my utmost to try and learn to live with cancer. 

    We all know it is very hard to do, and yet when I look back at the last five years I have some of my best memories ever in between the vomit and the tears. 

  • Jennifer Korn

    Tribute from The Sun's Head of Health

    Paying tribute, Lizzie Parry, Head of Health at The Sun and Deborah’s editor for five-and-a-half years, said: “To put into words the impact Deborah has had is almost impossible.

    “I’ve never known anyone with the same passion for life, it was infectious. 

    “She literally never stopped, there was always a new idea, a fresh way we could capture the imaginations of readers and encourage people to do everything in their power to avoid this horrible disease.

    “Deborah has saved, and will go on to save many, many lives as a result of her tireless campaigning.

    “A fitting legacy for someone I feel lucky to have been able to call my friend.”

  • Jennifer Korn

    Prince William and Kate Middleton's personal tweet

    In a personal tweet, Prince William and Kate Middleton praised Deborah after donating to her fundraising page, writing: "Every now and then, someone captures the heart of the nation with their zest for life & tenacious desire to give back to society.

    "@bowelbabe is one of those special people. Her tireless efforts to raise awareness of bowel cancer & end the stigma of treatment are inspiring.

    "We are so sad to hear her recent update but pleased to support the @bowelbabef, which will benefit the @royalmarsdenNHS among others.

    "Deborah, our thoughts are with you, your family and your friends. Thank you for giving hope to so many who are living with cancer. W & C."

  • Jennifer Korn

    Five signs and symptoms of bowel cancer

    The signs of bowel cancer you need to know – remember BOWEL

    1. B:Bleeding

    There are several possible causes of bleeding from your bottom, of blood in your poo.

    Bright red blood could come from swollen blood vessels, haemorrhoids or piles, in your back passage.

    Dark red or black blood could come from your bowel or stomach.

    Blood in your stools is one of the key signs of bowel cancer, so it’s important to mention it to your doctor so they can investigate.

    2. O: Obvious change in loo habits

    It’s important to tell your GP if you have noticed any changes in your bowel habits, that lasts three weeks or longer.

    It’s especially important if you have also noticed signs of blood in your poo.

    You might notice you need to go to the loo more often, you might have looser stools or feel like you’re not going enough or fully emptying your bowels.

    Don’t be embarrassed, your GP will have heard a lot worse! Speak up and get it checked.

    3. W: Weight loss

    This is less common than the other symptoms, but an important one to be aware of. If you’ve lost weight and don’t really know why, it’s worth mentioning to your GP.

    You may not feel like eating, feel sick, bloated and not hungry.

    4. E: Extreme tiredness

    Bowel cancer that causes bleeding can cause a lack of iron in the body – anaemia. If you develop anaemia you’re likely to feel tired and your skin might look pale.

    5. L: Lump or pain

    As with lots of other forms of cancer, a lump or pain can be a sign of bowel cancer.

    It’s most likely you’ll notice a pain or lump in your stomach or back passage.

    See your GP if it doesn’t go away, or if it affects how you eat or sleep

  • Jennifer Korn

    Bowel cancer is common in the UK

    Bowel cancer is the fourth most common cancer in the UK and the second biggest cancer killer.

    Nearly 43,000 people are diagnosed with it every year.

    However, the disease is treatable and curable, especially if diagnosed early.

  • Jennifer Korn

    How Deborah raised awareness

    Deborah presented the award-winning BBC podcast You, Me and the Big C with fellow cancer patients Rachael Bland, who passed away in September 2018, Lauren Mahon and Rachael’s husband Steve.

    In the five-and-a-half years since her diagnosis, Deborah changed the conversation around bowel cancer, raising vital awareness and breaking down taboos.

    She tirelessly banged the F*** Cancer drum – writing a book of the same name – and vowed to do everything she could to help others avoid her same fate.

    Her inspiration was the fierce love she had for her children, Eloise, 12, and Hugo, 14.

  • Jennifer Korn

    Deborah defied the odds

    Despite being told she had an eight percent chance of living five years, Deborah defied the odds stacked against her.

    After celebrating her 40th birthday last October – a birthday she never dreamed she would live to see – the brave campaigner marked the five-year milestone a few months later.

    Deborah shared every step of her journey with Sun readers in her column Things Cancer Made Me Say and her army of loyal social media followers.

  • Jennifer Korn

    Deborah's final message

    Courageous Deborah penned a final message for her followers, which her family shared at the end of their Instagram statement.

    It read: "And a few final things from Deborah…'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.' x"

  • Jennifer Korn

    Deborah's family's continued statement

    "Deborah shared her experience with the world to raise awareness, break down barriers, challenge taboos and change the conversation around cancer," the statement continued.

    "Even in her most challenging moments, her determination to raise money and awareness was inspiring.

    "We thank you for giving us time in private as a family, and we look forward to continuing Deborah’s legacy long into the future through the @bowelbabefund.

    "Thank you for playing your part in her journey, you are all incredible."

  • Jennifer Korn

    Deborah's family confirmed her death

    Deborah's devastated family confirmed her death this evening in a touching Instagram post alongside a picture and video of the campaigner.

    It read: "Dame Deborah James.

    "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.

    "Deborah, who many of you will know as Bowelbabe, was an inspiration and we are incredibly proud of her and her work and commitment to charitable campaigning, fundraising and her endless efforts to raise awareness of cancer that touched so many lives."

  • Jennifer Korn

    Deborah and Sebastian celebrated 13 years of marriage

    Taking to Instagram to commemorate their anniversary, Deborah shared a heartwarming video of them dancing together in the South of France.

    She wrote: "13 Years of marriage. My Rock.

    "It was our wedding anniversary earlier this week. Some days the weight of what that means in an uncertain future can be too much.

    "Then it’s the closing of new day. A new day you are grateful to see. A new day you didn’t think you’d feel well in.

    "And you dance. As your kids laugh and film. The sun sets, and you realise how wonderful it is to reach another milestone (and you park the sadness).

    "And you smile. And you are at one in the moment only. Because for any of us that’s all we ever have anyway.

    "And you give thanks to have people in your life that are the very back bone you remain upright on.

    "Sebastien – Thank you for holding my hand in the darkness and dancing me back into the light. I love you. Always."

  • Jennifer Korn

    Who is Sebastian Bowen?

    Deborah's husband Sebastien Bowen is a London banker.

    He works for Pomona Capital, and before that was a Director at MetLife Investments.

    It is understood he attended London’s St Paul’s School and got his master's degree at the University of Edinburgh.

  • Jennifer Korn

    Prince William and Kate Middleton donated

    Deborah raised an incredible £3 million for her Bowelbabe cancer research fund in just three days after her announcement on Monday, May 9, 2022.

    Prince William and Kate Middleton donated to Bowelbabe, and the royals praised Deborah's "zest for life and tenacious desire to give back to society".

  • Jennifer Korn

    Deborah wrote letters for her children

    Working through her "death admin", Deborah said letters to Eloise and Hugo are at the top of her To-Do list.

    “I want them to have letters at milestones, and funny messages: Here’s my advice on your wedding day; what to do on a first date", she explained.

    In her final column, Deborah wrote: "I’ve gone into mental overdrive and with the help of my husband, Seb, we have made sure that the kids have memory boxes – we’ve bought them gifts for certain key future birthdays.

    "I do not want to die – I can’t get my head around the idea that I will not see my kids' weddings or see them grow up – that I will no longer be a part of life that I love so much."

  • Jennifer Korn

    'I'd love one last cuddle'

    While Deborah has remained resilient throughout her journey, she broke into tears on BBC Breakfast when she spoke about her children.

    She said: “It’s been hideous telling my children. My first thought was, ‘I don’t want them to see me like this’.

    “I didn’t think I’d be able to speak to them without crying, but I’d love one last cuddle.”

  • Jennifer Korn

    Deborah had two children

    Journalist Deborah, 40, was married to Sebastien Bowen and together they have two children.

    Her daughter Eloise is 12 years old while her son Hugo is 14.

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