Dame Deborah James | Inspirational Podcaster | Obituary

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Obituary – Dame Deborah James – Inspirational Podcaster

In the last five years of her life, Deborah James, who has died aged 40 from cancer, never stopped talking about life as worth living.

She did this as co-host of BBC Radio 5 Live’s award-winning, lively podcast about living with cancer, You, Me and the Big C, originally alongside the broadcast journalist Rachael Bland, who died in 2018, and the Girl Vs Cancer founder and activist Lauren Mahon.

  • Died: June 28th, 2022
  • Details of death: died after a long battle with Bowel Cancer.
In her final years, Dame Deborah James used her terminal diagnosis of stage four bowel cancer to inspire the public and raise millions for charity.

The former deputy headteacher and podcaster, who has died aged 40, gained more than 900,000 followers on social media as she documented the high and lows of her treatment with a unique sense of humour and optimism.

As one of the co-hosts of the BBC podcast You, Me And The Big C, she took part in frank discussions about cancer that could be both serious and light-hearted, with conversations often punctuated by laughter.

From its first episode in March 2018, frankness, honesty and humour were the unique selling points of the show, and Deborah, diagnosed with stage 4 bowel cancer in December 2016, was its outrageous heart. She said that she had “the glam cancer”, and talked in detail about her experiences and symptoms, such as “pooing blood”, because “one of the biggest problems is that people aren’t frank enough”.

A month later, she was asking the Olympian athlete Steve Parry, who had a testicle removed as part of his treatment, if “double the amount comes out or half” when he was having sex, to uproarious laughter in the studio. “There’s always one, and it’s always Deb,” said Mahon. “She says what everyone else is thinking,” added Bland. Deborah came to another early episode wearing “a poo emoji outfit designed for a six-year-old”, bought while she was delirious after an operation, to promote bowel cancer awareness month. A few weeks later, she was dancing in it on her Instagram account, to the sound of Right Said Fred’s I’m Too Sexy. She wore it often thereafter.

Deborah’s final wish was for a fund in her name to raise money for projects close to her heart, including clinical trials, personalised medicine and awareness campaigns, with links to charities including Cancer Research UK, Bowel Cancer UK and the Royal Marsden Cancer Charity. “Before I die, the one thing I knew I wanted to do was set up a fund that can continue working on things that gave me life,” she said. She hoped the Bowelbabe Fund, set up on 9 May, would raise £250,000. In her final days, her campaigning earned her a damehood and her Bowel Babe fundraiser for Cancer Research UK passed the £6 million mark.

Date of birth: October 1st 1981

Date of Death: June 28th 2022 (aged 40 years)

 

 

 

 

Sources:

The Guardian – https://www.theguardian.com/society/2022/jun/28/podcaster-deborah-james-dies-of-bowel-cancer-bowelbabe

Evening Standard – https://www.standard.co.uk/news/uk/dame-deborah-james-obituary-bowelbabe-campaigner-bowel-cancer-podcast-host-b1008975.html

The Guardian – https://www.theguardian.com/society/2022/jun/29/dame-deborah-james-obituary