Dame Deborah James says there’s ‘so much to smile about in the sadness’ but is ‘getting weaker’

Podcaster Dame Deborah James has reflected on the most ‘mind blowing’ five days of life after being awarded a damehood. The inspirational 40-year-old, known online as Bowel Babe, was honored for her ‘tireless campaigning’ to raise awareness of bowel cancer.

Prince William popped in for afternoon tea at her family home as he was awarded the cancer campaigner with her damehood. Dame Deborah has raised millions for Cancer Research UK through her Bowelbabe fund on Just Giving.

Having set her original target at £250,000, she has now issued an update on the fund after her special day meeting Prince William on Friday (May 14). She told fans that the fund now stands at £5.7million.

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“I believe I may have had the most surreal, mind blowing, humbling 5 days of my life,” she wrote on her Instagram. “I cannot thank you for your generosity at launching the @bowelbabefund which now stands at £5.7 million, and to the @dukeandduchessofcambridge for going above and beyond to make a very special memory happen yesterday.”

Sharing her joy at becoming a Dame she wrote: “Can’t quite believe im actually a Dame! My family are being amazing and as emotional as it all is, we are finding so much to smile about in the sadness.”

The presenter of popular BBC podcast You, Me And The Big C on Monday disclosed that she had moved to hospice-at-home care to treat her terminal bowel cancer. Dame Deborah, a former headteacher, was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2016 and has kept her followers up to date with her treatments.

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She said: “I may be getting weaker and more tired each tired having run off pure adrenaline, but my word, I always said I wanted to slide in sideways when my time is up, with a massive smile, no regrets and a big glass of champagne! Still my intention!!!” And she added: “#live #life #dance #cancer #bowelcancer @thesun #princewilliam.”

Prince William poses up for a selfie

She wrote about her royal visit: “Prince William actually came to our family house today!! I am utterly honored that he joined us for afternoon tea and champagne, where he not only spent a generous amount of time talking to my whole family but also honored me with my Damehood.

“It’s quite surreal having a royal pop in at home, and yes you can imagine the cleaning antics and preparation went off the scale – but it was all irrelevant because William was so kind and he put us all at ease.

“He is clearly passionate about improving oncology outcomes as the President of the Royal Marsden. It was such a special day for my whole family, making memories to last a life time. He’s welcome back any time!”

Deborah James speaking on BBC Breakfast last week

On Thursday night Number 10 confirmed that James was to be made a dame, saying: “The Queen has been pleased to approve that the honor of damehood be conferred upon Deborah James.” Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “If ever an honor was richly deserved, this is it. Deborah has been an inspiration and her honesty, warmth and courage have been a source of strength to so many people.”

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He continued: “Through her tireless campaigning and by so openly sharing her experience she has not only helped in our fight against this terrible disease, she has ensured countless others with the Big C have not felt alone.

“I hope this recognition from Her Majesty – backed I’m sure by the whole country – will provide some comfort to Deborah and her family at this difficult time. My thoughts are with them and Deborah should know she has the country’s love and gratitude. “

Damehoods are usually handed out by members of the royal family, including William, at investiture ceremonies which take place at royal palaces including Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle.


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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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