Thousands of people were checking bowel cancer symptoms online immediately following the death of Dame Deborah James.

Last Tuesday, we lost one of the most influential fighters in cancer awareness.

Diagnosed with stage 4 bowel cancer in 2016, Dame Deborah was a fierce and compassionate advocate.

Her honesty, humour, and open heart has brought incredible awareness to cancer care, and comfort to others battling incurable cancers.

Earlier this year, in May, Dame Deborah set a goal to raise £250,000 for her fund, Bowelbabe, after announcing she was stopping active treatment and starting end-of-life care.

Overwhelmed with generosity, the fund has now surpassed £7m with more than 318,000 individual donations.

The Bowelbabe fund will support causes and projects close to Dame Deborah’s heart.

She said, “Before I die, the one thing I knew I wanted to do was set up a fund that can continue working on things that gave me life,” such as:

  • Funding clinical trials & research into personalised medicine that could result in new treatments for cancer patients, including projects in collaboration with partners like The Institute of Cancer Research and The Royal Marsden
  • Continued support to raise awareness of cancer, such as Bowel Cancer UK’s Never Too Young campaign

Between her cancer treatments, she worked tirelessly to raise awareness and share her positivity and perseverance.

She presented on the BBC podcast ‘You, Me, & the Big C’, published her best-selling book ‘F*** you cancer’ and constantly raised awareness on social media, TV, and radio.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, she created a podcast with her two children called “The Good Stuff”, which was a beacon of hope, positive thinking, and happiness.

With 1m followers on her @bowelbabe Instagram account, she brought us along her cancer journey with unrelenting honesty.

She shared the highs and lows, bringing to light the reality of living with cancer during a pandemic, and highlighting how stretched NHS resources were at times. However, her words were always sensitive and helpful.

Michelle Mitchell, Cancer Research UK’s chief executive, told BBC Breakfast:

“She believed powerfully in science as a route to improving the prevention and diagnosis and treatment of cancer.

“But she also believed in raising awareness and tackling the taboos around bowel cancer.”

As she started spending more time at home with her family, she finished editing her culminating book, “How to Live When You Could Be Dead” which will be published this coming August.

The Duke of Cambridge made a surprise visit to her home last month to honour her work with the award of damehood.

An inspiration to us all, Dame Deborah’s enthusiastic energy keeps us at RMDM working hard to make early detection solutions available and accessible. We hope her legacy fuels the next generation of advocates and change-makers to create a brighter, healthier future.

We are working towards a world where it is commonplace to catch cancer early, and late-stage diagnoses are rare.

Advocates like Dame Deborah remind us of the importance and imperative need for innovative technologies and advanced cancer treatments.

And perfectly said in her final words:

“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.”