Dame Deborah James was extraordinary to the last, an everlasting inspiration to us all: here's how to support the Bowelbabe Fund.

On the evening of Tuesday 27th June, Dame Deborah James's family announced that their loving daughter, sibling, wife and mother, had slipped away peacefully, aged 40. This 'unfalteringly brave' woman fought to the last and from the day she announced that she was going into palliative care on 11th May, Deborah still managed to make the most of the precious time she had left. There were trips to the Chelsea Flower Show, Royal Ascot and Glyndebourne and Debbie looked amazing, with her infectious smile and zest for life.

Deborah was extraordinary to the last, and an everlasting inspiration to us all. Her legacy will be felt, not only in all the ways in which she taught us to live but in practical ways too: there will be many people whose lives are saved thanks to her incredible campaigning energy and selflessness. What a woman. Our thoughts and love are with her family.

We have all been touched by the wisdom of Deborah James, also known as Bowelbabe. Her presence on Instagram, in the BBC podcast, You Me and the Big C, and spearheading the campaign for the awareness of bowel cancer, will leave a searing memory for her many fans and followers on social media.

Deborah James was diagnosed with the disease in December 2016 and told she was unlikely to live beyond five years. She beat that prediction and through her strength, honesty, humour and positivity, gave hope to others who have found themselves in a similar place.

Bowelbabe's last hurrah

Deborah is a woman who won't be forgotten in a hurry but even when the chips were down, Bowelbabe didn't give up, she had other plans. She wanted to create a legacy and set up the Bowelbabe Fund.

Donate to the Bowelbabe Fund

The JustGiving page has now raised over £7 million and money is still pouring in. The monies raised will fund clinical trials and research into personalised medication for cancer patients, all with the support of Cancer Research UK. Donate to the fund here.

Bowelbabe made a Dame

On Thursday 12 May, Downing Street issued a statement saying that Deborah had been honoured with a damehood. The Prime Minister said, "Through her tireless campaigning and by so openly sharing her experience, she has not only helped in our fight against this terrible diseases, she has ensured countless others with the Big C have not felt alone." On 13th May, HRH The Duke of Cambridge visited Deborah at her parents' home in Surrey, where he presented her with the Damehood.

Support the BowelBabe Fund

In the last weeks' of her life, Debbie launched a number of fundraising initiatives, which continues to raise money for the fund.

Rebellious Hope t-shirt

Working with In The Style, Deborah released a limited edition collection at the end of May which quickly sold out. If you missed out on this, you can support the campaign by buying The Rebellious Hope t-shirt, where 100% of profits from each t-shirt will go to to The Bowelbabe Fund for Cancer Research UK (a minimum of £7.08 per t-shirt). To date, In The Style has raised more than £1 million pounds for the fund from the sale of the full collection and Rebellious Hope. Buy the t-shirt here.

Dame Deborah James Rose

The Dame Deborah Rose was introduced by World of Roses at the Chelsea Flower in May, a stunning new white rose variety, bred by The Harkness Rose Company. £2.50 from the sale of each rose will go to the Bowelbabe Fund and to date, more than £45,000 has been raised for the fund. The floribunda produces masses of white blooms with a subtle 'ballet slipper pink' centre (as Deborah would describe it), set against dark green, glossy foliage. The rose is suitable for beds, borders or large patio containers. It is an absolutely superb variety that is easy to grow and will perform well in all gardens. Buy the rose here.

How To Live When You Could Be Dead

Deborah's second and last book was going to be published in early 2023, but she and Penguin worked hard to bring that date forward. When Debbie announced that its publication date was in August, it quickly topped Amazon's bestsellers' list with pre-orders. Part self-help, part memoir, the book shows you how to live as if you didn't have a tomorrow. Buy the book here.

On 17th May, Debbie said, 'We have worked really hard over the last few days to ensure the book benefits Bowelbabe Fund as much as possible. All my royalties will go to the fund and Penguin have kindly agreed to make an additional contribution per book. Altogether the donation per book will be £3.'

Raising awareness of bowel cancer

Deborah announced a partnership with Tesco and from July, its own-brand Luxury Soft Loo roll will include information on bowel cancer signs and symptoms.

No Butts Campaign

Debbie wasn't a woman who accepted her fate lying down and she held the torch for bowel cancer patients to the end. Over the past five years, she single handedly smashed poo taboos and removed the stigma of bowel cancer with endless doses of humour. A regular visitor on Lorraine promoting the No Butts campaign, she dressed up as a poo, wore big pants but most importantly, broadcast loud and clear what the symptoms and signs of bowel cancer are.

Symptoms and signs of bowel cancer

To find out more about bowel cancer, visit bowelcanceruk.org.uk.

Final words

Before Deborah died, she wanted to leave this world with a few thoughts for us all…“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.'

We send our thoughts to Deborah's family at this incredibly sad time but salute Debs, she was an inspiration. Her courage was legendary. Donate to the Bowelbabe fund now.

Updated June 2022
By Team GWG


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