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Bowel Babe campaigner Deborah James dies aged 40 after 'touching the nation' amid cancer battle

The You, Me And The Big C host was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2016

Dame Deborah James, known online as Bowel Babe, has passed away at the age of 40. The You, Me And The Big C host died peacefully at her parents' home in Woking, Surrey, surrounded by her family, just weeks after she was made a Dame by the Duke of Cambridge.

MORE: Why Prince William was the chosen royal to present Deborah James with her damehood

On Instagram, the You, Me And The Big C host's family released a heartbreaking statement which read: "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."

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"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," the post read.

"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."

MORE: Prince William pays surprise visit to Deborah James after Damehood honour

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"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," it continued, alongside a picture of Deborah in a white dress posing in front of a gorgeous sunset.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Deborah James (@bowelbabe)

Dame Deborah James passed away on Tuesday

"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.' (Shared with Deborah’s permission)."

Deborah leaves behind her husband Sebastien Bowen and their two children Hugo, 14, and Eloise, 12.

The former deputy headteacher was made a dame on 13 May, and was personally handed over the honour by Prince William. She thanked the royal for "going above and beyond to make a very special memory".

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Deborah James (@bowelbabe)

Prince William visited Deborah at home

"I am utterly honoured that he joined us for afternoon tea and champagne, where he not only spent a generous amount of time talking to my whole family but also honoured me with my Damehood," she wrote on Instagram.

"It's quite surreal having a royal pop in at home, and yes you can imagine the cleaning antics and preparation went off the scale - but it was all irrelevant because William was so kind and he put us all at ease. He is clearly passionate about improving oncology outcomes as the President of the Royal Marsden. It was such a special day for my whole family, making memories to last a life time. He's welcome back any time!"

Deborah with her husband Sebastien Bowen

Over the years, Deborah documented her cancer experience under the moniker @BowelBabe, inspiring millions of people. On 9 May, the former teacher announced she had stopped having treatment for her cancer.

The mother-of-two swiftly launched a fundraiser for Cancer Research UK that has raised more than £6million, smashing its original £250,000 target. The money raised will be used for clinical trials, research, and to raise awareness of bowel cancer.

Speaking in a heartbreaking interview with The Times prior to her death, Deborah revealed how she recorded letters for her children to open when they reach certain milestones, such as going on a first date or their wedding day.

How to Live When You Could Be Dead by Deborah James, £14.99, Amazon

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"It's been hideous telling my children," she explained.

"My husband Sebastien has been incredible, he has dropped everything and is with me 24/7. "My first thought was that I don't want my children to see me like this. I didn't think I would be able to speak to them without crying, but I'd love one last cuddle with them."

Speaking about her husband, whom she married in 2008, she said: "I have given him strict instructions: I want him to move on. He's a handsome man, I'm, like, 'Don't be taken for a ride, don't marry a bimbo, find someone else who can make you laugh like we did.'"

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