Dame Deborah James Dies Aged 40 After Five-Year Cancer Battle
| Last updated
Featured Image Credit: Instagram/@bowelbabe
Writer, podcaster, and cancer campaigner Deborah James has sadly passed away at age 40 after being diagnosed with bowel cancer.
Deborah's family confirmed the devastating news today in a statement.
"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," the statement read.
"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.
"Deborah shared her experience with the world to raise awareness, break down barriers, challenge taboos and change the conversation around cancer. 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.
"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."
Deborah leaves behind husband Sebastien and children Eloise, 12, and Hugo, 14.
Deborah was first diagnosed with bowel cancer back in 2016 and had since been documenting her journey on Instagram under the name 'Bowel Babe'.
She was also co-host of the hit BBC Radio 5 Live podcast You, Me and the Big C with Lauren Mahon and Rachael Bland (later replaced by her husband Steve when she passed away in 2018), in which all three spoke candidly about their experiences with cancer.
In May 2022, not long after she marked the five-year anniversary of her initial diagnosis, Deborah announced that she had moved to hospice at home care.
After leaving 'no stone unturned' while searching for a treatment that would work, she shared that her 'body simply isn't playing ball'.
Deborah told her supporters: "My active care has stopped and I am now moved to hospice at home care, with my incredible family all around me and the focus is on making sure I’m not in pain and spending time with them.
"Nobody knows how long I’ve got left but I’m not able to walk, I’m sleeping most of the days, and most things I took for granted are pipe dreams."
Before she signed off, Deborah asked her friends, family and followers to consider donating the cost of a drink to her Bowel Babe Fund.
She wrote: "All I ask, if you ever read a column, followed my Instagram, listened to the podcast or saw me dressed as a poo for no reason, please buy me a drink to see me out this world, by donating the cost to @bowelbabefund which will enable us to raise funds for further lifesaving research into cancer. To give more Deborahs more time!"
Within the first 24 hours of the fundraiser's launch alone, Deborah raised more than £1 million.
Sharing her news on social media, Deborah said: "My whole family are around me and we will dance through this together, sunbathing and laughing (I’ll cry!!) at every possible moment! You are all incredible, thank you for playing your part in my journey. No regrets. Enjoy life x Deborah."
You can donate to the Bowel Babe fund here.
If you’ve been affected by any of these issues and want to speak to someone in confidence, contact Macmillan’s Cancer Support Line on 0808 808 00 00, 8am–8pm seven days a week