Deborah James feels ‘humbled and blown away’ by damehood

The 40-year-old podcaster, known online as Bowel Babe, is receiving end-of-life care.

Deborah James (Alamy/PA)

By Ellie Iorizzo and Alex Green, PA

Podcast host Deborah James said she is “honoured and shocked” that she was considered for a damehood.

The 40-year-old, known online as Bowel Babe, was honoured for her “tireless campaigning” to raise awareness of bowel cancer.

As of May 13, James had raised more than £5 million for Cancer Research UK via a Just Giving online fundraiser.

Having set her original target at £250,000, she has now raised more than 20 times her goal.

In a post on Instagram, James said the last few days had been a “whirlwind of surreal dreaming”, and that she “can’t fathom the kindness and generosity”.

She said: “I don’t even know where to start with the overwhelming tears getting in the way.

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“I’m humbled and blown away that five years of talking about poo can lead to a damehood!

“I feel honoured and shocked that I even got considered.

“I can simply only give thanks for the wonderful people in the world and say the most heartfelt thank you for your unconditional support not just now but over the years.”

James reached the £5 million milestone on Friday after donations from more than 240,000 supporters, including high-profile figures such as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

Her Just Giving page said it is “raising money to fund clinical trials and research into personalised medicine for cancer patients and supporting campaigns to raise awareness of bowel cancer”.

James said she was “completely lost for words”, after reaching the phenomenal amount.

In an Instagram post, she wrote: “Thanks to an incredibly generous donation earlier today, and to every single person who’s donated to the @bowelbabefund, we’ve just reached the unbelievable total of £5m.

“We’re completely lost for words. This is all just beyond anything we could have ever imagined. The last 5 days have been surreal.

“Thank you for putting a huge smile on my face, and helping us to launch a legacy to hopefully impact a lifetime cutting edge cancer care.”

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The presenter of popular BBC podcast You, Me And The Big C, disclosed on Monday that she had moved to hospice-at-home care to treat her terminal bowel cancer.

In the social media post, she added: “As I’m getting more and more sleepy and finding life a little harder, I’ve had more time to think that I’ve never stopped to realise the impact that our podcasting, and talking, and campaigning has had over five years.

“Small chats really can save lives, small conversations can create ripples far beyond where we might see them, and seeds might grow where we’re never see their fruits.

“And there is something exciting and beautiful in that cycle of life. With this money hopefully more people will have more time with their loved ones.

“Who knows what plants we might grow, but when done with hope, we pray that some blossom into game-changers for our kids, and many more to come.

“Keep loving in kindness, with rebellious hope always.”

James began co-presenting the podcast, You, Me And The Big C, with Lauren Mahon and Rachael Bland in 2018 and they earned praise for their frank discussions about cancer.

Rachael Bland died of breast cancer in September 2018 at the age of 40(Claire Wood/PA)

Bland died in September that year at the age of 40, two years after being diagnosed with breast cancer.

Appearing on BBC Breakfast, Bland’s widower, Steve, who joined the podcast as a host following her death, said James “deals in the extraordinary”.

He added: “Everyone is focusing on the last five days, but actually Deb has been doing this for five years, ever since she was diagnosed with incurable cancer five years ago, and since then she has just been trying to help people.

“She has been banging the drum over and over and over and over – on bowel cancer symptoms, working hard to get drugs approved that she knew would help her but help loads of other people too.

“While the last five days have been amazing – the £4 million is incredible – there are people all over the country walking around enjoying their children’s birthday parties because she has basically saved their lives.”

The former deputy headteacher was diagnosed with bowel cancer at the end of 2016 and has documented her treatment for her more than half a million Instagram followers frankly throughout.

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