Deborah James urges ‘take risks, love deeply – and check poo’ in last post

Podcaster and bowel cancer campaigner Dame Deborah James, who died today at the age of 40, used her last words to implore her followers to “find a life worth enjoying; take risks; love deeply; have no regrets; and always, always have rebellious hope”.

The presenter of the BBC podcast You, Me And The Big C revealed in early May that she had stopped active treatment and was receiving end-of-life care at her parents’ home in Woking.

She spent her final weeks raising millions of pounds for research and was made a dame for her “tireless” work improving cancer awareness.

A statement posted by her family on Instagram on Tuesday night reads: “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. Deborah shared her experience of her 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 of her 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.”’

Tributes to the podcast host have flooded Twitter following the announcement of her death:

Dame Deborah was first diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2016, and shared candid posts about her progress and treatments to her nearly one million Instagram followers.

The former deputy headteacher launched the You, Me And The Big C podcast in 2018 with the help of Lauren Mahon and Rachael Bland.

The trio, who all had experiences with the disease, candidly discussed life with, treatment of and other topics relating to cancer.

In September of the same year, Bland died at the age of 40, two years after being diagnosed with breast cancer.

Dame Deborah announced in early May 2022 that she was receiving end-of-life care at home.

“The tweet I never wanted to write,” she wrote on Twitter.

“The time has come to say goodbye. 5 years to prepare, doesn’t make it any easy.”

After making the announcement, she set up the Bowelbabe Fund, which raised more than £6 million – more than 24 times her original target of £250,000.

For her efforts, she was made a dame, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson saying: “If ever an honor was richly deserved, this is it.”

Dame Deborah later said she felt “honored and shocked” to even be considered for the honour.

In another surprise, her damehood was conferred by the Duke of Cambridge, who joined her family for afternoon tea and champagne at home.

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.

She also revealed that she had completed her second book, titled How To Live When You Could Be Dead, due to be published on August 18.

Her first book, F*** You Cancer: How To Face

With additional reporting from the Press Association

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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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