Deborah James has tragically died aged 40, with her family announcing the news in a powerful post online.
The 40-year-old was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2016 and has since worked tirelessly to raise awareness around the disease, launching the hit BBC Radio 5 podcast, You, Me and The Big C.
She has captured the heart of the nation, inspiring millions of people through her podcast, blog and social media, documenting her experience with bowel cancer under the handle @Bowelbabe.
Yesterday, Deborah's family took to Instagram to break the tragic news.
"Dame Deborah James," read the statement. "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.
"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.' x"
This comes just two months after Deborah told followers that she had stopped responding to treatment, setting up the Bowelbabe fund in a goodbye post.
"I always knew there was one thing I always wanted to do before I died," she wrote in her post. "I have always over the years raised as much awareness and money for the charities that are closest to me. As a result, the @bowelbabefund is being established and I’d love nothing more than for you to help it flourish."
She continued: "All I ask if you ever read a column, followed my Instagram, listened to the podcast or saw me dressed as a poo for no reason. Please buy me a drink to see me out this world, by donating the cost to @bowelbabefund which will enable us to raise funds for further life saving research into cancer."
Signing off the post, she concluded: "Right now for me it’s all about taking it a day at a time, step by step and being grateful for another sunrise. My whole family are around me and we will dance through this together, sunbathing and laughing (I’ll cry!!) at every possible moment! You are all incredible, thank you for playing your part in my journey. No regrets. Enjoy life x"
The Bowelbabe Fund has gone on to raise almost £7 million and Deborah was awarded a Damehood for her incredible work.
Thank you Deborah James for everything you have achieved.
Our thoughts are with Deborah's loved ones at this tragic time.
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Jenny Proudfoot is an award-winning journalist, specialising in lifestyle, culture, entertainment, international development and politics. She has worked at Marie Claire UK for seven years, rising from intern to Features Editor and is now the most published Marie Claire writer of all time. She was made a 30 under 30 award-winner last year and named a rising star in journalism by the Professional Publishers Association.
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