SUSANNA Reid fought back tears as she paid tribute to Dame Deborah James on Good Morning Britain.
The 51-year-old remembered the legendary BowelBabe who died from bowel cancer aged just 40.
Speaking about the inspirational Sun columnist, Susanna said: “Even if you’d never met her, I think everyone felt like they knew Dame Deborah James, who has sadly passed away way too early at the age of 40. A five-year battle, of course, with cancer.
“She was an absolutely remarkable woman, who fought right to the end to raise awareness of the condition.
“Our hearts go out to her children… and her husband Sebastian, and her parents."
Dr Hilary Jones added: "She was determined not to let this cancer destroy her.
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“She was always putting other people before herself, family first, but also she wanted to campaign to raise awareness of the symptoms to make it clear to people that this wasn’t just a disease for older people.”
Mum-of-two Deborah, known as BowelBabe to her legions of Instagram fans, was diagnosed with incurable bowel cancer just days before Christmas in 2016, at the age of 35.
After learning last month she would receive end-of-life hospice care, she began fundraising in earnest – with the total now topping an astonishing £6.7million.
Her legions of fans around the country learned of her death in an Instagram post shared from her account last night.
It reads: “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.
“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.
“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.
“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."
True to form, the beloved national treasure had the last word.
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She penned a final missive to supporters before her death. Her words were shared in the Instagram post tonight.
“Find a life worth enjoying; take risks; love deeply; have no regrets; and always, always have rebellious hope," she said.
“And finally, check your poo – it could just save your life.”
Despite being told she had an eight per cent chance of living five years, Deborah defied the odds stacked against her.
After celebrating her 40th birthday last October – a birthday she never dreamed she would live to see – the brave campaigner marked the five-year milestone a few months later.
In the five-and-a-half years since her diagnosis Deborah changed the conversation around bowel cancer, raising vital awareness and breaking down taboos.
She tirelessly banged the F*** Cancer drum – writing a book of the same name – and vowed to do everything she could to help others avoid her fate.
Her inspiration was the fierce love she had for her children, Eloise, 12, and Hugo, 14.
She dreamt of a future where they wouldn’t have to fear cancer, where a cure would be readily available and the disease would no longer be a killer.
- Donate here to keep raising money for Deborah's BowelBabe fund
Bowel cancer symptoms to speak to your GP about:
The five red-flag symptoms of bowel cancer include:
- Bleeding from the back passage, or blood in your poo
- A change in your normal toilet habits – going more frequently for example
- Pain or a lump in your tummy
- Extreme tiredness
- Losing weight
Tumours in the bowel typically bleed, which can cause a shortage of red blood cells, known as anaemia. It can cause tiredness and sometimes breathlessness.
In some cases bowel cancer can block the bowel, this is known as a bowel obstruction.
Other signs of bowel cancer include:
- Gripping pains in the abdomen
- Feeling bloated
- Constipation and being unable to pass wind
- Being sick
- Feeling like you need to strain – like doing a number two – but after you've been to the loo
In her final poignant column for The Sun, she wrote: "I have now entered into end of life hospice care at home, where there is no monitoring and we take everything day by day – it’s all just about symptom management and trying to make me comfortable and meeting my desires to try and have the best quality death that I can.
"I have done what I have always wanted to do which is go to my parents house and be surrounded by my incredible family and watch in awe as they somehow manage to smile through the heartbreak.
"And it reassures me to know that while I may not be here soon, things will be OK because together they can get through this, the hardest of adversities."
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