Dame Deborah James’s eight-year battle with bowel cancer is over.
The English journalist and podcast host of the BBC died on Tuesday at age 40. James’ death was announced on her official Instagram page. The reporter was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2016. Two years later, in 2018, she began to share her cancer journey with listeners on the BBC podcast “You, Me and the Big C.”
“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,” the Instagram tribute that shared her death read. “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.”
The post went on to reiterate the host’s efforts to bring attention to the issue of bowel-related cancers and open up conversations largely considered beyond the pale of discussion.
“Deborah shared her experience with the world to raise awareness, break down barriers, challenge taboos, and change the conversation around cancer,” the post noted. “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,” the post continued.
In May of this year, just days after revealing that she had put an end to her treatments and entered hospice care, James launched the Bowelbabe Fund for Cancer Research initiative. Two days later, she was made Dame Commander by Prince William, Duke of Cambridge. Upon James’ death, Bowelbabe has raised over £6,000,000 of its £250,000 target with the help of over 308,000 supporters.
The last part of the post announcing James’ death, which was shared with her permission, offered some of the final thoughts from the journalist.
“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,’” the post concluded, adding, “And finally, check your poo — it could just save your life.”
On Wednesday, Prince William and the former Kate Middleton tweeted their condolences just hours after James' death was confirmed.
"We are so sad to hear the heartbreaking news about Dame Deborah. Our thoughts are with her children, her family and her loved ones," the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's account tweeted.
The message also expressed that James was "an inspiration and unfalteringly brave woman whose legacy will live on."
The journalist leaves behind husband Sebastien Bowen and children Hugo, 14, and Eloise, 12.