Inside Deborah James fundraising journey as fund soars after heartbreaking death

Deborah James sadly passed away on Tuesday 28 June at the age of 40 after her five year battle with bowel cancer.

The journalist, who leaves behind her husband Sebastien and children Eloise, 12, and Hugo, 14, courageously fought through her diagnosis by bringing awareness and crushing taboos.

Having raised over £6million with her bowel cancer fundraiser back in May, it's no surprise that the last photo Deborah took on her Instagram page was of her celebrating her In The Style clothing collection, which also raised over £1m for Cancer Research UK.

The 'Bowel Babe' smashed her original target of £250,000 for Cancer Research UK and has then surpassed more than £6.7 million, just weeks after announcing she was receiving end-of-life care.

And, since her heartbreaking death surged past £6.8m in the hours after it was revealed she'd passed away.

Despite her declining health, Deborah continued to remain dedicated to raising awareness of cancer.

Most recently, the podcaster made her final TV appearance on E4’s Embarrassing Bodies where she opened up about her heart-breaking bowel cancer diagnosis and shared a life-saving message.

Speaking candidly about receiving the diagnosis five years ago, Deborah told GP Tosin Ajayi-Sotubo that it was the "last thing she was expecting" to hear.

The journalist also explained the early signs of bowel cancer and mentioned how she wanted people to stop seeing it as an “old man’s disease”.

Throughout her journey, this is something Deborah has been keen to highlight – even in her final days.

Earlier this month she urged toilet roll manufacturers to include the signs of bowel cancer on its packaging, after Marks and Spencer confirmed that it would be doing so.

In a video message aired on ITV’s Lorraine, Deborah said: “It's the start of things to come, I think we should now do a big shout out to other companies now, saying come on where's your signs and symptoms.

“Forget about the puppies, I'm bored of the puppies. We need actual information signposted on those loo rolls so I'm hoping lots of other big brands will now go "yeah, hang on, this makes massive sense. This is what we need to be doing.”

As part of her fundraising efforts, Deborah received support from a variety of famous faces, including Prince William and Kate Middleton.

A tweet shared on their Kensington Royal Twitter account read: “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.”

The You, Me and the Big C host also teamed up with fashion retailer In The Style to launch a line of ‘Rebellious Hope’ t-shirts.

With all profits going to Deborah’s Bowelbabe fund, the line raised £1million and counting, and has attracted support from Sophie Wessex.

In an update on the fund’s Instagram page, Deborah’s family wrote: ”Through donations, fundraising and partnerships we are all continuing to raise an incredible amount of money that will help give more Deborah's more time.

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"All money raised will be allocated, with the support of CRUK to funding causes and projects such as: funding clinical trials and research into personalised medicine that could result in new treatments for cancer patients."

Some of the money will also be used in collaboration with The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) and The Royal Marsden to fund ongoing projects to beat the diseases.

Another portion will go towards advancing Bowel Cancer UK's Never Too Young campaign, which hopes to raise awareness of the disease and how to recognise the signs in order to treat and beat it.

Dame Deborah threw a lavish engagement party for her brother Benjamin shortly before she died, before admitting she was "sad she'll miss the wedding".

Her heartbreaking story remains one of strength, however.

Deborah was made a dame, attended Ascot, and even spent a recent afternoon tea with none other than Prince William himself.

The mother-of-two bravely fought bowel cancer since 2016, and shared her journey inside and out ever since.

She remained positive even on the days that "are not good", and even managed to enjoy a family sleepover, though she’d had a tough day of “tears” and was “unable to get out of bed”, writing to followers: “Making memories can be hard why you are dying! Oh the pressure!!"

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