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Deborah James has captured the heart of the nation.
The 40-year-old was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2016 and has since worked tirelessly to raise awareness around the disease, launching the hit BBC Radio 5 podcast, You, Me and The Big C.
She has inspired millions of people through her podcast, blog and social media, documenting her experience with bowel cancer under the handle @Bowelbabe.
This week, James made the tragic announcement that her active care had stopped and that she would be moving to hospice care.
In a goodbye message, James thanked followers for the part they played in her journey and announced that she was setting up the Bowelbabe fund.
“I always knew there was one thing I always wanted to do before I died,” she wrote in her post. “I have always over the years raised as much awareness and money for the charities that are closest to me. As a result, the @bowelbabefund is being established and I’d love nothing more than for you to help it flourish.”
She continued: “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 life saving research into cancer.”
Signing off the post, she concluded: “Right now for me it’s all about taking it a day at a time, step by step and being grateful for another sunrise. 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”
Since its launch three days ago, the Bowelbabe Fund has already gone on to raise over £4 million.
Even Prince William and Kate Middleton got involved, donating an undisclosed amount and posting to Twitter: “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.”
Her tireless work to raise money and awareness has been so impressive in fact that it was announced this week that she has been given a Damehood.
“The Queen has been pleased to approve that the honour of Damehood be conferred upon Deborah James,” the government announced this week in a breaking press release.
“If ever an honour was richly deserved, this is it,” announced Prime Minister Boris Johnson in a statement. “Deborah has been an inspiration and her honesty, warmth and courage has been a source of strength to so many people. 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.”
Reacting to the news, via The Sun, Deborah James wrote: “OMFG, this is crazy. I don’t know what to say. I’m blown away and feel incredibly honoured. I don’t feel like I deserve this. I can’t tell you what this means to my family, it’s so much to take in.”
James’ husband, Seb, also made a statement, telling the publication: “She has campaigned tirelessly, often through adversity, and being recognised with a Damehood is something that she would never have dreamt of, but it is so truly deserved.”
Our thoughts are with Deborah and her loved ones.