Cancer campaigner Deborah James made a dame after raising over £3m as PM calls her ‘an inspiration’


Cancer campaigner and podcast host Deborah James has been awarded a damehood, the government has announced.

The presenter of the BBC Podcast You, Me and The Big C was diagnosed with terminal bowel cancer in 2016 and she has since kept her 300,000 Instagram followers up to date with her treatments.

On Thursday night, Number 10 confirmed that the former headteacher is to be made a dame, saying: “The Queen has been pleased to approve that the honour of damehood be conferred upon Deborah James.”

Responding to the news on Instagram, James said: “Blown away and crying at the honour.”

Earlier this week, James said she has been moved to hospice-at-home care and told her followers she does not know “how long I’ve got left”, adding the previous six months have been “heartbreaking”.

Having set up the Bowelbabe Fund for Cancer Research UK to coincide with the announcement of her tragic news, more than £3.7m has been raised.

Her original target was £250,000 and the money raised will go towards clinical trials, research and raising awareness for the illness.

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson praised the mother-of-two for her work helping others with cancer.

“If ever an honour was richly deserved, this is it. 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.

“I hope this recognition from Her Majesty – backed I’m sure by the whole country – will provide some comfort to Deborah and her family at this difficult time. My thoughts are with them and Deborah should know she has the country’s love and gratitude.”

Podcaster Deborah James whose series You, Me and the Big C has documented her life with bowel cancer. Pic: Deborah James/bowelbabe Instagram
Pic: Instagram / Bowelbabe

She marked five years since her diagnosis on 14 December 2021, writing: “I’m fully aware I shouldn’t be alive to write this today.”

But in a new Instagram post on Monday, she said: “The message I never wanted to write. We have tried everything, but my body simply isn’t playing ball.

“My active care has stopped and I am now moved to hospice at-home care, with my incredible family all around me and the focus is on making sure I’m not in pain and spending time with them.

“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.”

She added that she had left “no stone unturned” through her treatment, but even a “magic new breakthrough” wouldn’t make a difference.

Deborah James. Pic: Instagram / Bowelbabe
Pic: Instagram / Bowelbabe

She added: “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!

Read more:
William and Kate send message to ‘inspiring’ fundraiser

“You are all incredible, thank you for playing your part in my journey.

“No regrets. Enjoy life x Deborah.”

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