Deborah James’ BowelBabe fund raises £1.1 million in 24 hours after opening, as the presenter says she’s no longer receiving cancer treatment

Deborah James announces her second book as Bowelbabe fund raises over £6.3 million

Presenter Deborah James has announced her second book after leaving an emotional goodbye message on social media as her active bowel cancer treatment was stopped.

BBC presenter, podcaster and author Deborah James has announced that she has written her second book, called How To Live When You Could Be Dead. In an Instagram post, James shared that she was “gutted” she will not live to see it published.

“So I’ve got a few things to share with you before I die that I’m gutted I won’t see in real life! But I’ve now been granted permission to share them and I’m really excited!

“For the last 2 years I’ve been working on my second book How to Live When You Could Be Dead – oh the irony of the title! I wanted to share all my (hard-won!!) learning on how to have a positive mindset when we are faced with life’s biggest challenges,” she wrote.     

Last week, James was awarded a damehood following fundraising efforts that have collected over £6.3 million for her Bowelbabe cancer fund.

Confirming the news on Twitter, prime minister Boris Johnson wrote: “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.

My thoughts are with Deborah and her family. She has the country’s love and gratitude.”

James announced the fund on Monday in an emotional goodbye message, revealing that her active care for bowel cancer has stopped and she is receiving hospice-at-home care.

“My body just can’t continue anymore,” she said in a post on Instagram on 10 May. “We have tried everything, but my body simply isn’t playing ball. 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.”

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The post, which has been liked over 300,000 times, announced James’ Bowelbabe fund, which will raise money to fund clinical trials and research into personalised medicine for cancer patients and supporting campaigns to raise awareness of bowel cancer.

“I always knew there was one thing I always wanted to do before I died. I have always over the years raised as much awareness and money for the charities that are closest to me,” James wrote of the fundraiser.

In just a few days, it has already surpassed over £3.9 million in donations, with many donors leaving messages thanking James for raising awareness of the condition. 

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge shared their support for James and her family after donating an undisclosed amount to the fund.

In a personal tweet on Wednesday evening, William and Kate said: “Every now and then, someone captures the heart of the nation with their zest for life & tenacious desire to give back to society.

“@bowelbabe is one of those special people. Her tireless efforts to raise awareness of bowel cancer & end the stigma of treatment are inspiring.

“We are so sad to hear her recent update but pleased to support the @bowelbabef, which will benefit the @royalmarsdenNHS among others.

“Deborah, our thoughts are with you, your family and your friends. Thank you for giving hope to so many who are living with cancer. W & C.”

Thousands of friends and followers left messages of support under James’s goodbye post as she thanked them for playing a part in her journey.

“You changed so many people’s lives, you’ve spread so much joy and kindness. An ever lasting impact,” commented author and presenter Katie Piper.

“Deborah. You are honest, gracious, feisty and incredible. You are helping (and have helped) so many people by raising awareness of bowel cancer. You are an absolute legend. And that’s why there are so many people who love you,” added presenter Victoria Derbyshire.

James, Mahon and Bland’s husband Steve, co-hosts of BBC’s You, Me and the Big C
James, Mahon and Bland’s husband Steve, co-hosts of BBC’s You, Me and the Big C

In a poignant interview on BBC Breakfast on Tuesday, James reflected on the toll the continued treatment had taken on her body.

“I’ve always said I don’t want to leave any stone unturned – I don’t think there isn’t a stone we haven’t tried to unturn to make my liver work again in order to get my body functioning.

“Unfortunately I’m exhausted – I’m absolutely exhausted. We’ve got to the point now where I can’t really do anything more.”

Addressing the money she’s raised, James shared: “I always knew that there was one thing I wanted to do before I died. What I really want to happen is that I don’t want any other Deborahs to have to go through this and I want – we know that if we catch cancer early we can cure it. We know that much more investment needs to take place for cancer.

“So before I died, one thing I knew I wanted to do was set up a fund that could continue working on some of the things that gave me life.”

She added to viewers: “Please, please just enjoy life because it’s so precious. All I want right now is more time and more life.”

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James was diagnosed with stage four bowel cancer in 2016 and kept her thousands of followers updated with candid accounts of her treatment. 

As the co-host of BBC’s You, Me And The Big C, she shared an honest account of living with cancer, alongside blogger Lauren Mahon. The third host, author Rachael Bland, sadly passed away from breast cancer in 2018.

Donate to the Bowelbabe fund here.

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