Dame Deborah James, host of the BBC podcast You, Me and the Big C, has died at the age of 40, after a six-year battle with bowel cancer.
James was an avid campaigner and was recently made a dame for her “tireless” work on improving awareness around the disease, raising millions of pounds for research in the process.
James died on Tuesday at her family home in Woking in the UK, after stopping active treatment and being put on end-of-life care in May.
The news was announced in a heartfelt statement shared on behalf of her family. “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,” they said.
“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.”
James set up the fund with the aim of raising £250,000, but achieved more than 20 times her initial target, raising more than £6m.
Several high-profile figures from across the world have paid tribute to her, including the UK's Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, who said that “many many lives will be saved” as a result of her work.
“I’m terribly saddened to hear that Dame Deborah James has died. What an inspiration she was to so many,” he said in a tweet.
“The awareness she brought to bowel cancer and the research her campaigning has funded will be her enduring legacy. Because of her, many many lives will be saved.”
Health secretary Sajid Javid said in a tweet that she “leaves behind an incredible legacy”.
“RIP Dame Deborah. Her exceptional campaign to help those living with cancer won the whole nation’s admiration, and started important conversations about living with the ‘big C’”.
Television presenter Lorraine Kelly wrote on Twitter: "What a legacy she leaves us. Sending so much love to her family and everyone who knew her."
Piers Morgan called James a “truly remarkable” woman. “RIP Dame Deborah James, aka Bowel Babe,” he said. “A truly remarkable and inspiring woman. Such sad news.”
Television personality and campaigner Katie Piper said: “You will never be forgotten Deborah. All your hard work, campaigning and infectious spirit lives on.”
As well as writing two books on cancer, James founded the popular podcast You, Me and the Big C in 2018, alongside Lauren Mahon and Rachael Bland. All three had been diagnosed with cancer.
Bland died in September that year at the age of 40, two years after being diagnosed with breast cancer.