James’ death was announced by her family on Tuesday 28 June, who said: “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”
Prior to her death James was awarded a damehood on Thursday 12 May after raising over £4m for Cancer Research UK through her BowelBabe Fund in less than a week.
At the time, James said she was “honoured and blown away” by the damehood.
“I don’t even know where to start with the overwhelming tears getting in the way. I’m humbled and blown away that five years of talking about poo can lead to a damehood!” she wrote.
In a statement about James’ damehood on Thursday 12 May, prime minister Boris Johnson said: “If ever an honour was richly deserved, this is it. Deborah has been an inspiration and her honesty, warmth and courage has been a source of strength to so many people.”
Since her diagnosis, the educator-turned-campaigner launched a podcast, wrote a column for The Sun, and authored two books about the disease.
Following James’ death, celebrities have been quick to pay tribute to the journalist, who was first diagnosed with stage four bowel cancer in 2016.
Lorraine Kelly posted a moving tribute to her “dear friend” Deborah James in the hours following James’ death.
“We will remember Dame Deborah as a dear friend of the Lorraine show and as the heart and soul of our bowel cancer campaign No Butts. She leaves a lasting legacy and has saved countless lives through all the work she did to break the ‘poo taboo’,” the Instagram post read.
TV presenter Susanna Reid commented under the post from James’ family.
She wrote: “Sending your family all of my love - what an incredible woman.”
Deeply sad news.
Dame Deborah James’ charity work was truly inspirational — even in the most challenging moments, she continued to raise awareness about bowel cancer and impacted so many people’s lives.
Our thoughts are with her family and friends at this difficult time. https://t.co/h4FikzkF5F
— Keir Starmer (@Keir_Starmer) June 28, 2022
Labour Party leader Keir Starmer tweeted: “Deeply sad news. Dame Deborah James’ charity work was truly inspirational — even in the most challenging moments, she continued to raise awareness about bowel cancer and impacted so many people’s lives.
“Our thoughts are with her family and friends at this difficult time.”
TV personality Katie Piper also commented under the post from James’ family.
She wrote: “You will never be forgotten Deborah. All your hard work, campaigning and infectious spirit lives on.”
RIP Dame Deborah James, aka Bowel Babe. A truly remarkable and inspiring woman. Such sad news. 🥲 pic.twitter.com/P0feYOpgcL
— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) June 28, 2022
Piers Morgan said: “RIP Dame Deborah James, aka Bowel Babe. A truly remarkable and inspiring woman. Such sad news.”
Dame Deborah James ✨ your legacy will live on. Rest easy 🤍
— Grace 🌿 (@GraceFVictory) June 28, 2022
Influencer Grace Victory wrote: “Dame Deborah James, your legacy will live on. Rest easy.”
I’m terribly saddened to hear that Dame Deborah James has died. What an inspiration she was to so many.
The awareness she brought to bowel cancer and the research her campaigning has funded will be her enduring legacy.
Because of her, many many lives will be saved.
— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) June 28, 2022
The prime minister said he was “saddened” to hear of James’ passing.
He tweeted: “I’m terribly saddened to hear that Dame Deborah James has died. What an inspiration she was to so many.
“The awareness she brought to bowel cancer and the research her campaigning has funded will be her enduring legacy.
“Because of her, many many lives will be saved.”
Bake Off star Candice Brown wrote under the post on James’ Instagram page: “Fly high angel, you will always be remembered.”