Tributes are flooding in for the “inspirational” podcaster and cancer campaigner Deborah James who died “peacefully” on Tuesday.
The former deputy headteacher, 40, was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2016 and fiercely campaigned to raise awareness of the condition on social media, through charities and BBC podcast You, Me and The Big C.
James’ family, figures from the entertainment industry, politics and beyond have paid tribute to the podcaster.
Deborah James passes away aged 40
A statement posted by her family on her Instagram account said: “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.
It added a final message from Deborah which said: “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’ mother Heather said her heart is “broken” following the death of her daughter and wrote: “My heart is broken. Love you forever.”
‘Your incredible spirit will live on’
Carol Vorderman also paid tribute to Dame Deborah James, tweeting “your incredible spirit will live on.”
James revealed in early May that she had stopped active treatment and was receiving end-of-life care at her parents’ home in Woking, with her husband Sebastien and their two children on hand.
Her candid posts about her progress and diagnosis, including videos of her dancing her way through treatment, won praise from the public and media alike.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said because of James “many many lives will be saved, while Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer described her charity work as “truly inspirational”.
In a statement, the BBC’s director-general Tim Davie, said: “This is incredibly sad news. Dame Deborah James was a true inspiration.
“We’re so proud to have worked with her at the BBC. The way she talked about and faced up to her cancer moved the nation, inspired change and undoubtedly saved lives.”
James was a patron for Bowel Cancer UK and the charity’s chief executive, Genevieve Edwards said the former headteacher brought “warmth, energy and honesty to everything she did”, adding that she was a “powerful patron for Bowel Cancer UK and leaves a stunning legacy through her BowelBabe fund”.
Macmillan Cancer Support said: “We’re so grateful for all of her generous support over the years, and her dedication to stand together with people with cancer”.
BBC radio presenter Chris Stark tweeted that Dame Deborah and tweeted: “I hope we can have a gin wherever this all leads.
“Thinking of your family and friends and everyone that is going through similar. Rest in Peace Debs x”.
While broadcaster Katie Piper posted a green heart, adding “we will never forget you”.
James launched a fund called the Bowelbabe fund, to raise money for research into personalised medicine for cancer patients.
In her final weeks, Dame Deborah raised more than £6.7 million for research through her BowelBabe fund and was made a dame for her “tireless” work improving awareness of the disease.
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