Dame Deborah James’ mum speaks out after podcaster dies aged 40

Dame Deborah James’ mother has paid tribute to her beloved daughter following her death at the age of 40. 

The family shared a joint statement on Tuesday to announce that Dame Deborah, known for hosting the BBC podcast You, Me & The Big C, had died earlier that day following a five-year bowel cancer battle. 

Since she stopped cancer treatment and began receiving hospice care at her parents’ home in Surrey, Dame Deborah raised nearly £7million through her Bowelbabe Fund with the donations going towards various cancer charities that helped her over the years, including the Royal Marsden Hospital in London. 

After news of her death was announced, Dame Deborah’s mother Heather – who goes by the name Bowelgran on Instagram – shared photos of her late daughter posing and dancing against the backdrop of a sunset in her Instagram stories, adding the caption: ‘My heart is broken.’ 

She added: ‘Love you forever.’ 

It came days after Heather revealed how proud she was of her inspirational daughter, after her campaigning led to Tesco becoming the latest supermarket to add the symptoms of bowel cancer to its toilet roll packaging. 


The move followed on from Marks and Spencer and Andrex confirmed they would be adding the information to their toilet paper packaging. 

Sharing Tesco’s announcement on Instagram, adding: ‘Well done Deborah and a big thank you to @tescofood for your support and £300,000 donation to the @bowelbabefund’.

Dame Deborah’s family led tributes to the former head teacher, saying they were ‘deeply saddened’ to share the devastating news. 

‘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,’ their statement said. 

‘Deborah shared her experience with the world to raise awareness, break down barriers, challenge taboos and change the conversation around cancer. Even in her most challenging moments, her determination to raise money and awareness was inspiring.’ 

The family added: ‘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.

‘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. And finally, check your poo – it could just save your life.” x.’ 

Dame Deborah is survived by her husband Sebastien Bowen and their two children Hugo, 14, and Eloise, 12.

Macmillan cancer support

If you or someone you care about has been diagnosed with cancer, Macmillan can offer support and information.

You can contact their helpline on 0808 808 00 00 (7 days a week from 8am to 8pm), use their webchat service, or visit their site for more information.

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