Dame Deborah James has revealed she was given just days to live when she was released from hospital last month – and insisted her day at Royal Ascot was a ‘fab milestone’ that proves she ‘ain’t dead yet’.
The mother-of-two, who is currently receiving palliative care at her parents’ home in Woking, has been making the most of the time she has left after revealing last month that she’s no longer receiving active treatment for bowel cancer.
In that time, she has been on a number of outings, including watching opera at Glyndebourne, enjoying a trip after hours to the Chelsea Flower Show and lunch at the £700-a-night Beaverbrook estate in Leatherhead, Surrey.
Yesterday, the deputy head turned bowel cancer campaigner, 40, attended Royal Ascot, which is just a 30-minute car journey from her parents’ home in Woking, with family members including her brother Benjamin.
Today she took to Instagram to reveal how much she had enjoyed the special day out, describing it as a ‘fab milestone to say “I ain’t dead yet”.’
Dame Deborah James, 40, who’s receiving hospice care at her parents’ home in Woking, made the short journey to Royal Ascot yesterday, a day she described today on Instagram as a ‘fab milestone’
Deborah pictured with her brother Benjamin and his fiancé Ashley Hall (far right) said memories were made during the special day out
Deobrah revealed she was given just days to live when she was released from hospital to have palliative care at home last month
In a touching post on the social media platform, she wrote: ‘Yesterday was really special as with a lot of effort and help I actually made it to Ascot Race Course once again.
‘I honestly have to pinch myself that I’ve been well enough each day to do something like this. Another favourite I’d had in mind and a fab milestone to say “ain’t dead yet!”
‘Obviously like most haven’t been for a while due to Covid, but so nice to be back and thank you to Ascot Race Course for making the whole experience for me and my brother just seamless and achievable for me.
‘Memories made, but most importantly I got 3 wins in a row and am still bouncing off the ceiling from them still!!!’
Dame Deborah, who stopped active treatment for her illness around a month ago before moving to her parents’ home for hospice care, described how stressful her situation is.
She said: ‘I find myself living in limbo land, not really knowing what the future holds and for how long. It’s a very stressful uncertain place to be because when I was discharge from hospital over a month ago I was given days, maybe a week to live. And I felt like it.
‘But as we all know life doesn’t go according to plan, so I’m just greatful for what ever extra time, the powers that be have decided to grant me. So despite the unnerving tears, I look at the sunshine, smile, and think, wow, life is a funny thing isn’t it!! Better enjoy it!’
The bowel cancer campaigner, who has stopped active treatment for her own bowel cancer, went to Ascot with family members including her brother Benjamin (pictured)
The former schoolteacher, a mother of two, was also snapped with jazz singer Natalie Rushdie while at Ascot yesterday
The mother-of-two made the most of her day out, dressing in a pretty polka dot navy and white dress and a wide-brimmed straw hat, and finishing her look with a pair of gold and cream gladiator-style sandals, and a matching cream bag.
As well as posing for photos with her brother Benjamin and his fiance Ashley Hall, the campaigner was also snapped with jazz singer Natalie Rushdie.
In addition, earlier in the day, she shared a snap of some of the sundowner drinks she’s been enjoying with her family at her parents’ home.
She revealed she was enjoying a sip of Sex on the Beach and said she plans to ‘work her way through old cocktails day by day’ until her time comes.
The campaigner, who was diagnosed with cancer in 2015, also shared a post by In The Style urging people to snap up more of her Rebellious Hope collaboration to add another £1million to her Bowelbabe Fund, which currently stands at more than £6.7 million.
‘Today’s “sundowner” treat of choice! ‘Sex on the Beach!”,’ Dame Deborah wrote, sharing a picture of her sun-soaked cocktail.
Sharing a snap of her outdoor table, Deborah revealed she was enjoying a sip of Sex on the Beach and joked she would ‘work her way through old cocktails day by day’ until her time comes
Dame Deborah James, 40, has joked she’ll have an old cocktail every day until she’s ‘gone’ in a bittersweet Instagram story as she is receiving palliative care at her parents’ home in Woking
The campaigner, who was diagnosed with cancer in 2015, also shared a post by In The Style urging people to snap up more of their Rebellious Hope collaboration to add another £1million to her Bowelbabe Fund, which currently stands at £6,707,653
‘Maybe I should just call this working my way through all old school cocktails day by day before I’m gone,’ she added.
The picture also showed Deborah had brought out a bottle of Archers Peach Snaps.
‘Yes that is Archers! And yes I did grow up as Archers and lemonade being a stable college social drink,’ she added.
Deborah hits back at critics after saying she ‘wouldn’t die over the Jubilee’ because she ‘didn’t want Meghan to steal her thunder’
Last Saturday, Dame Deborah wrote in The Sun that she was ‘determined not to die over the Jubilee weekend’, adding: ‘I don’t want Meghan stealing my thunder.’
However on Sunday she was forced to hit back at critics over the comment, posting on Twitter : ‘Meghan comment is a joke, apparently you can still find a send off fun in your day!’
She also added: ‘The rest is not. Is dying the last taboo of them all?
‘I thought poo talk was hard, but navigating end-of-life care makes checking your poo easy by comparison of DNR chat and respect documents!’
Also in her story, Deborah shared a post by Adam Frisby, CEO of In The Style, the brand she collaborated with to create her Rebellious Hope t-shirts.
The proceeds from the £15 to £18 t-shirts go to the Bowelbabe Fund set up by Dame Deborah to benefit Cancer Research UK.
In a passionate post, Adam said he is proud of the money sales of the t-shirt has generated so far, and encouraged people to buy more so that the charity donation could reach £1million.
‘We are SO CLOSE to hitting £1million raised for Dame Deborah’s charity @bowelbabe… ONE MILLION POUNDS! I am honestly so proud of that,’ Adam wrote.
‘For us to raise nearly ONE MILLION with Dame Deborah for charity is just so special and it makes me so god damn proud. Having the privilege of working with someone like Debs and seeing how happy this has made her in such incredibly difficult circumstances makes all the hard work so worthwhile,’ he added.
‘Ultimately though… we wouldn’t raise anything if it wasn’t for you guys supporting so I thank you so much for that!
‘We have just restocked the tees and have one final design dropping this week! So we want to give this one final push to achieve over £1million pounds for charity which will be a RECORD DONATION from a fashion brand,’ he said.
In addition to supporting fundraising efforts, Dame Deborah has been making the most of the good weather and of her time at home.
On Monday, the campaigner posted a video of her brother Benjamin making them a Bloody Mary cocktail out in the garden. She said: ‘Sundowner vibes with the bro.
It’s the pickle juice that does it for me! Feels like salad in a cocktail!
Dame Deborah James has vowed to ‘live whilst dying’ after sharing snaps from her visit to the Glyndebourne Festival Opera alongside her husband Sebastien.
She explained she’s ‘taking things one day at a time’, next to a picture of her at the event five years ago, when newly diagnosed. Opera-lover Deborah and Sebastien got dressed up in all their finery to La bohème at the venue in East Sussex, last week.
Deborah was first diagnosed with bowel cancer in December 2016, and was told early on that it was likely she would not survive beyond five years – a milestone that passed in the autumn of 2021.
She explained in her post this weekend that she was ‘trying to see a few of her favourites one last time’ as she receives end of life care.
On Tuesday, Dame Deborah revealed she was making and enjoying Bloody Marys with her brother
The campaigner posted a video of her brother Benjamin making them a Bloody Mary cocktail out in the garden. She said: ‘Sundowner vibes with the bro.
Deborah shared two stunning images of herself side by side on her stories, telling her followers that she had visited the opera house ‘five years ago to the week’.
She also shared photographs showcasing her stylish metallic ensemble, and posed up a storm with her husband.
The mother-of-two wrote on Instagram: ‘Another day, brings another excuse to spend half of it exhausting myself getting dressed up to go to one of my favourite places!!!!
On Friday, she shared a picture showing her having lunch at the £700-a-night Beaverbrook estate in Leatherhead, Surrey and ‘enjoying the sunshine on her face’.
Posting the image on Instagram, Deborah captioned it: ‘Happy Friday! Feeling grateful to be able to enjoy another moment of sunshine on my face, and food that makes me smile!
Earlier this month, Deborah vowed to ‘still live whilst dying’ after sharing comparison photographs while visiting Glyndebourne opera house with her husband Sebastien last night, pictured
As she shared side-by-side pictures of her in 2017 and her now, Dame Deborah reflected on how she was ‘trying to make the most of not knowing what lay ahead’ five years ago
The mother-of-two said she remembered visiting Glyndebourne Festival Opera five years ago, shortly after she was diagnosed with stage 4 bowel cancer
‘But be under no illusion! I’m knackered! I’ve worked out it takes me longer to get ready and organised to go than the time I actually last anywhere,’ said Deborah (pictured)
‘Just trying to find the diamond moments in the rough – but when you look hard enough you realise they can still be there! Thanks as always for your amazing messages and love. Have a good one.’
Dame Deborah is now receiving end of life care at her parents’ home in Woking and has raised over £6.7million in the weeks since she announced the news after launching her Bowelbabe Fund.
At the start of the year, the mother-of-two, who shares her children Hugo, 14, and Eloise, 12, with her husband Sebastien, announced she had ‘nearly died’ in hospital, calling it the ‘hardest’ part of her 5-year cancer battle – before breaking the heartbreaking news that there was no more treatment she could have.
Symptoms of bowel cancer
– Change in bowel habits with diarrhoea, constipation or the feeling of incomplete emptying
– Thin or loose bowel movements
– Blood or mucous in stools
– Abdominal pain, bloating and cramping
– Anal or rectal pain
– Lump in the anus or rectum
– Unexplained weight loss
– Unexplained anaemia
Deborah shared an Instagram post earlier this spring revealing, saying: ‘The message I never wanted to write. We have tried everything, but my body simply isn’t playing ball.
‘My active care has stopped and I am now moved to hospice at home care, with my incredible family all around me and the focus is on making sure I’m not in pain and spending time with them.’
She is receiving the hospice care at her parents’ home in Woking, to spare her children the difficult memories of her spending her final days at the family home in London.
The news comes after she told The Sun that she was ‘scared to fall asleep’ because she does not know how long she has got left.
She added she had felt a ‘deep love’ from her family, saying: ‘I think my family are knackered, they have all been incredible – going above and beyond to look after me and nurse me.’
And speaking of her end of life care recently she said: ‘I feel very strongly that I don’t want my kids to see me agitated and distressed. I want to make sure they see me when I’m having a good days.’
Saying the ‘pressure’ on her young children was ‘huge’, she continued: ‘I want them to have nice memories.
‘I don’t want them to take on the burden of having to care for me, massage my legs because I can’t walk. That would break my heart.’
In recent weeks, she has won praise from Prince William who called her ‘brilliant, brave and inspirational’ as he met some of the staff who treated her.
Speaking at the Royal Marsden to patient Lorraine Kimber, 59, from Essex, who is currently undergoing treatment for pancreatic cancer and knows Mrs James well, the prince described his meeting with her.
‘She was incredible, incredible. She was surrounded by her family, we had a lovely afternoon,’ he said.
‘You know she’s had over 100 tumours. Which is unbelievable. I couldn’t believe that. The resilience you have to have to keep going back again, it’s got to be very draining on you.’
William said: ‘She was joking…because they are a very tight family, very close, you could see that….she was joking that at last she could now drink.
‘She said it was brilliant. She was ‘triple parked’ and kept on joking about how many drinks she could get lined up in front of her.
‘She’s realising that being at home is just where she wants to be right now, surrounded by all her loved ones.’ He added: ‘ I love Deborah, she’s fantastic. Her legacy is massive.’
HOW DEPUTY HEAD TURNED SOCIAL MEDIA STAR HAS TRANSFORMED BOWEL CANCER AWARENESS
In December 2016, the West London mother-of-two, a deputy head, was diagnosed ‘late’ with incurable bowel cancer
After sharing her experiences on living with the disease on social media, Deborah became known as the ‘Bowel Babe’
In 2018, she became one of three presenters on Radio 5 Live’s You, Me and the Big C, which was conceived by her late co-host Rachael Bland
The campaigner has been praised for her honest portrayal of living – and dying – with cancer via her Instagram page @bowelbabe
On September 5th 2018, Welsh journalist and presenter Bland, diagnosed with terminal breast cancer, died at the age of 40
Deborah and her co-host Lauren Mahon continue to present the show, with Steve Bland, Rachael’s husband, joining the duo
On social media and in her column for the Sun newspaper, Deborah has documented the many chemo, radiotherapy sessions and surgery she’s had since
During her treatment, Deborah told followers on Instagram ‘By my general lack of being on here (dancing!), that Things have moved (in the wrong direction) very quickly cancer wise.’
In 2019, she had a procedure known as CyberKnife, a highly targeted form of radiotherapy to attack an inoperable lymph node close to her liver
The pandemic’s impact on cancer services saw her campaign for care to continue as normal and, earlier this year, she launched the ITV’s Lorraine’s ‘No Butts’ campaign, raising awareness on bowel cancer symptoms
Since last year, she has been taking new experimental drugs as part of a trial after her oncology team gave her the green light to do so
August, Deborah revealed that scans she’s had in recent days have revealed her cancer has gone in the ‘wrong direction very quickly’
She told followers she would be taking a break on social media over the weekend to ‘snuggle’ with her family ahead of more scans
The mother-of-two said a new ‘rapidly-growing’ tumour near her liver had wrapped itself around her bowel
On October 1, Deborah celebrates her 40th birthday
By October 18, the mother-of-two told her followers her chemotherapy is working
Days later, she was rushed to A&E with ‘spiking 40 degree temperatures’
In November, she reveals she is unable to walk for more than 20 minutes and remains ‘very weak’
By December, Deborah said she was ‘not sure what her options were’ after her liver stent ‘stopped working’
In January, she had five operations in 10 days after nearly dying in an acute medical emergency
January 25, Deborah returns home from hospital after three weeks
March 14, the mother-of-two is back in hospital as an in-patient after suffering from septic infection
In April, she concerned fans with snaps after suffering ‘a rough few days’
April 14, the mother-of-two tells fans she has been discharged from hospital but calls the situation ‘very tough’
April 27, she tells Lorraine that she has spent ’80 per cent’ of the year in hospital
May 9 – Deborah announces she has moved to hospice care
Dame Deborah James, 40, says she had a ‘gut instinct that something wasn’t right’ before her bowel cancer diagnosis in final TV appearance on E4’s Embarrassing Bodies
Dame Deborah James has revealed she had a ‘gut instinct that something wasn’t right’ before her bowel cancer diagnosis in her final TV appearance on E4’s Embarrassing Bodies tonight.
Sharing a clip from the programme on her Instagram stories today, Deborah explained: ‘I recorded this with the Embarrassing Bodies team a good while ago but it’s out tonight.
‘Tonight I join the #EmbarrassingBodies team to discuss some simple but important ways of detecting early bowel cancer symptoms. I hope to see you on @e4grams at 10pm.’
In the clip, she explained: ‘I started going to the poo – we need to say that – eight times a day. And I used to be a once-a-day kind of girl.
The mother-of-two speaks about her symptoms of bowel cancer such as needing to poo more frequently and loosing a lot of weight
Deborah (pictured at Royal Ascot yesterday) details how a number of changes in her body led her to have a ‘gut instinct’ that something wasn’t right
‘Then I started getting really tired and I remember drinking loads of cups of coffee just to try and keep myself awake. Then I started losing loads of weight and I started having blood in my poo.’
It was the combination of these changes, Deborah said, that led her to having a ‘gut instinct that something wasn’t right.
Dame Deborah speaks with GP Dr Tosin Ajayi-Sotubo about why ‘talk of poo, should never be a taboo’. In emotional scenes, Deborah will tell young people her story to raise awareness of the disease while pressing her ‘check your poo’ message.
The mother-of-two – who set up the fundraiser for Bowelbabe Fund for Cancer Research UK which has now surpassed £6million in donations – told The Sun: ‘I might not live to see the episode air but I hope the message to “Check your poo” will live on, long after I’m gone.
‘It might be embarrassing but it might just save your life. Early diagnosis of things like bowel cancer saves lives.
‘So don’t live to regret it, and don’t risk dying because you’re shy. I’ve given my blessing for this episode to run if I’m gone, if it helps save one life it will be worth it.’
Dame Deborah (pictured left) chats to GP Dr Tosin Ajayi-Sotubo (pictured right) about why talk of poo, should never be a taboo