Dame Deborah James’s sister has recalled how ill the late campaigner was when the Prince of Wales visited her parents’ home to hand-deliver her DBE last May.
However, her sister Sarah Wieczorek shared that she was determined to make the effort and be ‘holding’ the conversation on the day.
The late podcast host, who documented her health ordeal on the You, Me & The Big C, which she presented alongside Lauren Mahon, Steve Bland and his late wife Rachael Bland, was awarded a damehood after raising millions of pounds for cancer research in her fundraiser following her diagnosis with bowel cancer in 2016.
She died aged 40 on June 28, 2022.
Sarah and her and Dame Deborah’s mother Heather appeared on Lorraine on Monday to launch the return of the show’s ‘No Butts’ bowel cancer campaign.
Heather shared that her late daughter would ‘love ’ the return of the campaign, spearheaded by her pal, presenter Lorraine Kelly.
She added: ‘[It’s] bittersweet because I was here last year with Deborah watching on TV because she was too poorly and I said to her, “You’ll do it next year.” But that wasn’t to be.’
Recalling the day that Prince William – now the Prince of Wales – made a visit to Dame Deborah’s parents’ house – where she had opted to spend her final days – Sarah shared of the surreal occasion: ‘Afterwards you’re like, “Did I say anything wrong? Did I swear?” Because he just makes you feel so at ease.’
With Lorraine aSki Goggles (On Sale Here)ng if Dame Deborah took it in her stride, she responded: ‘Totally. She was so unwell but when he was there, she held the conversation.’
The ladies also discussed her gift at communicating and how she made it easier for others to talk to her, as a terminally ill patient.
‘She made things simple, she bought the cheekiness into things and the sparkle. I think she broke communication down to a normal level,’ said Sarah.
Dame Deborah’s Bowelbabe Fund for Cancer Research UK has now reached £11.3million through its online appeal and her family’s fundraising, while her legacy also continues through a new BBC documentary airing posthumously.
In it, Dame Deborah’s voice notes and videos, as well as social media posts, feature alongside never before seen footage and interviews with her love d ones.
Donate to Dame Deborah James’ Bowelbabe fund
Dame Deborah James admirably raised money towards cancer charities after announcing that her own bowel cancer was terminal.
The belove d campaigner, known by her social media handle Bowelbabe and as a presenter of the You, Me And The Big C podcast, had been diagnosed with stage four bowel cancer in 2016 and was told early on that she may not live beyond five years.
She tragically died last June at the age of 40, five years after being diagnosed with the disease.
With the support of Cancer Research UK (CRUK), Dame Deborah and her family established the Bowelbabe Fund, with all money raised to be allocated to funding clinical trials and research into personalised medicine that could result in new treatments for cancer patients, including projects in collaboration with partners such as The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) and The Royal Marsden. Donations will also go towards continued support to raise awareness of cancer, such as Bowel Cancer UK’s Never Too Young campaign.
Her Bowelbabe Fund for Cancer Research UK has now reached £11.3million through its online appeal and her family’s fundraising, while they work to continue her legacy.
You can donate via the Just Giving link here.
She also speaks candidly of the toll her illness took on her love d ones, including husband Sebastien Bowen.
‘We muddle on through and I do love my husband very much. And actually, I’m just thinking, “I do really hope we can grow old together”,‘ she candidly shares in one clip.
Deborah James: Bowelbabe In Her Own Words airs on Monday, April 17 at 9pm on BBC Two and BBC iPlayer.
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First appear at Dame Deborah James’ sister recalls effort she made to ‘hold conversation’ with Prince of Wales during home visit when she was ‘so unwell’