Deborah James, a beloved UK radio host and columnist known to fans as BowelBabe, penned a touching farewell to readers as her body “just can’t continue anymore” after a five-year bout with stage four bowel cancer.
“My active care has stopped and I am now moved to hospice at home care, with my incredible family all around me and the focus is on making sure I’m not in pain and spending time with them,” added the mother of two.
James was diagnosed with her rare form of cancer, B-RAF mutation, just days before Christmas 2016 — at age 34. After receiving the devastating news, she became a cancer warrior.
James bravely chronicled her harrowing health journey with humor and grace in her regular column in The Sun, while raising awareness and money for various cancer charities.
In her final column, published Tuesday, she expressed gratitude to her supporters and family and urged others to “have rebellious hope.”
“In over five years of writing about how I thought it would be my final Christmas, how I wouldn’t see my 40th birthday or see my kids go to secondary school — I never envisaged writing the one where I would actually say goodbye,” she wrote.
Over the last six months, James has been mostly been confined to hospital care, unable to walk or have many visitors and fighting four back-to-back bouts of sepsis — all of which have depleted her energy and “bouncebackability.”
“It’s not about lack of access to the latest fancy drugs – it’s not about feeling hard done by that I couldn’t get a life saving operation – it’s simply that I have an extremely difficult cancer in an extremely difficult area of my body that even today’s cutting edge technology and techniques cannot cure … My body is so emaciated that I have no choice but to surrender to the inevitable.”
James also announced the formation of her charity, Bowelbabe Fund, to raise money for more life-saving cancer research and clinical trials. Within 24 hours, it raised over $1 million — a testament to her impact on the public and the cancer community.
James insisted she was not brave but a “scared girl” who is grateful for the life she’s experienced. She has gone “into mental overdrive” preparing for her children’s future without her. She and her husband Seb have made memory boxes and bought gifts for milestone future birthdays.
“I do not want to die – I can’t get my head around the idea that I will not see my kids’ weddings or see them grow up – that I will no longer be a part of life that I love so much.”
She thanked her supporters and team of doctors at the Royal Marsden. And she finished with words of advice: “Take risks; love deeply; have no regrets; and always, always have rebellious hope…And finally, check your poo – it might just save your life.”