Deborah James: Footage shows star's final days
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Raising millions for Cancer Research UK, the much-loved campaigner died aged 40 after a battle with stage four bowel cancer. One week on, her best friend shared stories and memories that encapsulated the inspirational mother-of-two.
Bursting into the garden in just a long sequin coat and feather headress, Dame Deborah James was unaware of the business call going on on her husband Sebastian’s laptop.
Waving a kitchen sieve in one hand and a rather large sex toy in the other, the intrusion was an unexpected surprise for both parties.
In commemoration of her death, best friend and podcast co-host Lauren Mahon dedicated an episode to telling the stories of her favourite “comeback kid”.
Lauren, a cancer activist herself and presenter of BBC’s You, Me and the Big C podcast, said: “I am so proud of the dame, I am in awe of her, but I am sorry, I miss the deviant.”
Dedicating the life she had to raising awareness for bowel cancer and its early detection signs, Deborah built up a strong community of support on her social channel @bowelbabe.
She saved lives by encouraging people to seek medical help immediately after finding blood in a stool and raised millions for Cancer Research UK.
Inspiring many through her courage and story, alongside her social media content, she co-hosted the BBC podcast with Lauren during her battle with cancer.
In the first conversation since her tragic passing, producers of the show sat with Lauren and reminisced on the Dame’s short life.
“It doesn’t feel real… We always just assumed she would be the one who would outdo all the odds,” Lauren told friend Steve Bland and producers Mike Holt and Al Entwistle.
The foursome continued to chat about what a character Deborah was and consoled each other as they expressed their deep loss.
Lauren said: “We miss Deborah, who turned up to podcast recordings unwashed, swore like a sailor and had the biggest cackle ever.”
Remembering her as someone always up for some fun and with a twinkle in her eye, Al said: “She was sophisticated when she wanted to be, but the flip side of that was she was a little bit mad.”
Steve, husband to former podcast host Rachel, who died of breast cancer, was next to share his memories of Deborah.
He revealed, “Deborah was bonkers and wonderful in every single possible way, but for all the bonkersness I think about all the people she helped and is going to keep on helping.”
Stressing the impact the Dame had on people, he wanted it to be clear how long the campaigner had been actively raising awareness.
“A lot of people perhaps only got to know her in the last seven or eight weeks but for five years, she’s been doing this. She’s been helping people.”
Adding to the tribute, Lauren took the chance to thank everyone for supporting Deborah along the way.
She said: “Deb, as much as she came across as bolshy, was sensitive. She did take things to heart.
“Knowing that she’d helped somebody would light a fire within her and it kept her going.”
Listen to the full conversation on BBC’s You, Me and The Big C, available on all podcast streaming sites.
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