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Deborah James Dies Aged 40 Following 5 Year Cancer Battle

Simon Fearn

| Last updated 

Deborah James Dies Aged 40 Following 5 Year Cancer Battle

Podcaster and bowel cancer activist Dame Deborah James has died aged 40, her family have confirmed.

They wrote on Deborah's Instagram: "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 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.

"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.’"


The former deputy head teacher was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2016 and her candid accounts of her health struggles proved inspirational for her near-one million Instagram followers.

In 2018, she launched the You, Me And The Big C podcast with Lauren Mahon and Rachael Bland. Bland tragically died of breast cancer later that year.

Her work to increase awareness of bowel cancer, along with the incredible feat of raising more than £6 million for charity through her BowelBabe Fund, led to her being recognised with a damehood earlier this year.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said at the time: "If ever an honour was richly deserved, this is it."

Dame Deborah James raised more than £6 million for charity through her BowelBabe fund. Credit: Instagram/@bowelbabe
Dame Deborah James raised more than £6 million for charity through her BowelBabe fund. Credit: Instagram/@bowelbabe

James made the decision to switch to end-of-life care at home in recent months.

She said: "Nobody knows how long I've got left but I'm not able to walk, I'm sleeping most of the days, and most things I took for granted are pipe dreams.

"I know we have left no stone unturned. But even with all the innovative cancer drugs in the world or some magic new breakthrough, my body just can't continue anymore."


Deborah's recently announced she had completed her second book: How To Live When You Could Be Dead. It will be released on 18 August.

If you’ve been affected by any of these issues and want to speak to someone in confidence, contact Macmillan’s Cancer Support Line on 0808 808 00 00, 8am–8pm seven days a week 

Featured Image Credit: Instagram/@Bowelbabe

Topics: Celebrity

Simon Fearn

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