“You are the best of us”: tributes paid to BowelBabe Dame Deborah James following her death

Written by Amy Beecham

Dame Deborah James, known as BowelBabe online, passed away from bowel cancer on 28 June.  

Dame Deborah James, the broadcaster and cancer campaigner known as BowelBabe, has passed away at the age of 40.

Her family shared the news on Instagram in a post that has been liked over 730,000 times

“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,” her family wrote.

“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 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 in her journey, you are all incredible.”

Sharing her poignant final words, they added: “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.”

James’s BowelBabe fund currently stands at £6.8 million pound and she was made a Dame in by Prince William in May 2022.

A podcaster, author and campaigner, James garnered a large online following with her taboo-breaking content around bowel cancer as she raised awareness for the condition.

Earlier this month, her lobbying influenced Andrex to put the symptoms of bowel cancer on 29 million packs of toilet paper, to help aid early diagnosis.

Following her death, hundreds of emotional tributes were shared to social media in her honour.

BBC Presenter Adele Roberts, who recently announced that she was cancer-free, said: “My heart hurts. Thank you for everything Deborah. Thank you for being so strong for so long and helping others when you were in so much pain yourself.

“You are the best of us. Thinking of your family and friends and I am forever grateful to you for helping me and my family.”

“I’m terribly saddened to hear that Dame Deborah James has died. What an inspiration she was to so many,” tweeted Boris Johnson, the prime minister.

“The awareness she brought to bowel cancer and the research her campaigning has funded will be her enduring legacy. Because of her, many many lives will be saved.”

“Thank you thank you for everything you have done … leaving such a huge legacy … thank you for having such a positive impact on so many of us,” wrote presenter Davina McCall.

“Thank you for making us look and re-examine our lives and for educating us all . Thank you for raising all of that money for others … you were a total firecracker… you will be so so missed . RIP x and so much love to your family and your beautiful kids.”

“Sending so much love to you all. What an extraordinary woman,” shared Claudia Winkleman.

“You will never be forgotten Deborah. All your hard work, campaigning and infectious spirit lives on,” added activist Katie Piper.

Amanda Pritchard, chief executive of the NHS said in a statement: “On behalf of the whole NHS, I want to offer my condolences to the loved ones of Deborah James — her amazing attitude was humbling and a lesson to us all.

“Her fundraising has helped countless cancer patients and her determination to raise awareness will have saved many lives.”

Images: Getty

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