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Editor's Viewpoint

Take heed of brave Deborah’s words



Dame Deborah James

Dame Deborah James

Dame Deborah James

There won’t be too many families around who haven’t been touched in some way by cancer.

There are the stories of brave battles, of those who survived, or those who didn’t and are remembered, of fundraising in their memory, but every so often a person arrives on the scene who takes the conversation to a whole new level.

There will be those who have not come across the name of Dame Deborah James, who died on Tuesday aged 40 and leaves a husband and two young children.

Those who have will know the impact she had on many lives, indeed, she’s probably even saved thousands by her tireless campaigning through her podcast You Me and the Big C, which she ran alongside friends and fellow cancer patients Lauren Mahon and the now deceased Rachael Bland.

She quickly became known as Bowelbabe to her followers.

With public appearances up until two weeks before her death, she kept the disease in the spotlight, mixing in celebrity circles, even royal circles, until the end.

Diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2016, it’s been a seven-year campaign to raise awareness of the symptoms, and she’s done just that.

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And she always found much to smile about in the sadness that surrounded her privately.

The message was always one of hope, the need for awareness of the symptoms, the need for fast action and the need for people not to feel embarrassed.

What’s a little embarrassment anyway if it means you’re around in 40 years time to see your grandchildren grow up?

Deborah took on life and all it threw at her, unafraid to face the reality of her situation.

Her final words released to the public before her death summed up all Deborah stood for.

“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.”

Anyone with even the slightest concern should hear those words, seek help early, go for screenings, get checked by a doctor. Cancer makes no difference between rich and poor, old and young. There’s nothing to be gained in sitting back and thinking it won’t happen to me, soldiering on and only living with regret.

Deborah’s condition was terminal, but she still found the time to save thousands of others. The tributes are well deserved for stripping off the embarrassment of cancer, laying it bare for all to see and doing it in such a way that kept hope and humour alive.

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