‘Bowel Babe’ Deborah James, who battled cancer, dead at 40

Journalist and BBC personality Dame Deborah James has died at the age of 40.

James, known to fans as “Bowelbabe,” succumbed to Stage 4 bowel cancer after a public five-year battle that inspired many and helped raise awareness and millions of dollars for cancer care in the UK.

She passed away Tuesday while surrounded by family, who announced the sad news on her Instagram, in a post that read: “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.”

Prince William presented James with Damehood
Prince William Deborah James and made her visited lady.
Instagram / @bowelbabe

The post continued to note how James broke barriers, “challenged taboos and changed the conversation around cancer.”

The mother of two is survived by her husband Sebastien and children, Eloise, 12, and Hugo, 14.

In early May, James penned a heartbreaking farewell column for the Sun, announcing she had run out of treatment options and would be entering hospice at home.

Deborah James has chronicled her cancer battle with humor and grace
James chronicled her cancer battle with humor and grace.

“It’s not about lack of access to the latest fancy drugs — it’s not about feeling hard done by that I couldn’t get a life saving operation — it’s simply that I have an extremely difficult cancer in an extremely difficult area of ​​my body that even today’s cutting-edge technology and techniques cannot cure… My body is so emaciated that I have no choice but to surrender to the inevitable,” she wrote.

But even after saying goodbye, she continued to make international headlines.

Columnist and radio host Deborah James chronicled her battle with bowel cancer
Columnist and radio host James chronicled her battle with bowel cancer.

James launched her charity the Bowelbabe Fund to finance clinical trials and cancer care. Within 24 hours, it raised over $1 million, and by the end of May, it had over $7 million in her coffers — a testament to her impact on the public and the cancer community.

Then a week later, Prince William visited her at home, making her a dame.

“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,” she wrote on her Instagram alongside a picture of her and the Duke of Cambridge.

James was diagnosed with her just rare form of cancer, B-RAF mutation, days before Christmas 2016 — at age 34.

Deborah James, her husband Sebastien and children Eloise and Hugo pose with Prince William.
James, her husband Sebastien and children Eloise and Hugo pose with Prince William.
Instagram / @bowelbabe

After receiving the devastating news, she became a cancer warrior and bravely chronicled her harrowing health journey with humor and grace in her regular column in the Sun.

Her death announcement included her final words of wisdom — sentiments she had frequently shared over her five-year bout with bowel cancer.

“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.’”


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