ITV News Correspondent Charlie Frost reports on the incredible efforts Dame Deborah James went to to raise awareness for bowel cancer
Cancer campaigner and podcast host Deborah James has reached the £4 million mark for her cancer research fundraising initiative, just hours after she was made a Dame.
James, 40, known online as Bowel Babe, has raised more than 16 times her original £250,000 goal for Cancer Research UK, after she set up a Just Giving page to raise money for clinical trials, research, and raising awareness of bowel cancer.
The milestone comes after Number 10 announced she had been honoured with a damehood for her “tireless campaigning” on the issue.
The former headteacher was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2016 and has kept her more than 500,000 Instagram followers up to date with her treatments.
On Thursday night, Number 10 confirmed that James is to be made a dame, saying: “The Queen has been pleased to approve that the honour of damehood be conferred upon Deborah James.”
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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.
“Through her tireless campaigning and by so openly sharing her experience she has not only helped in our fight against this terrible disease, she has ensured countless others with the Big C have not felt alone.
“I hope this recognition from Her Majesty – backed I’m sure by the whole country – will provide some comfort to Deborah and her family at this difficult time. My thoughts are with them and Deborah should know she has the country’s love and gratitude.”
James, the much-loved presenter of the BBC podcast You, Me And The Big C announced on Monday she had set up the Bowelbabe Fund.
In an Instagram post she said she did not know how long she had left, and that while the last six months had been “heartbreaking” to go through, she had been surrounded by “so much love” and had “no regrets”.
Speaking about her decision to set up the Bowelbabe fund, James wrote: “I always knew there was one thing I always wanted to do before I died.
“I have always over the years raised as much awareness and money for the charities that are closest to me. @cr_uk @royalmarsden @bowelcanceruk
“As a result, the @bowelbabefund is being established and I’d love nothing more than for you to help it flourish. Please visit bowelbabe.org for all the info and to donate (link in Bio).”
What are the symptoms of bowel cancer?
According to the NHS, the three main symptoms of bowel cancer are:
persistent blood in your poo – that happens for no obvious reason or is associated with a change in bowel habit
a persistent change in your bowel habit – which is usually having to poo more and your poo may also become more runny
persistent lower, bloating or discomfort – that's always caused by eating and may be associated with loss of appetite and weight
However, the NHS says most people with these symptoms do not have bowel cancer. Other health problems can cause similar symptoms such as a change in diet or haemorrhoids.
The NHS recommends seeing your GP if you have any of the symptoms of bowel cancer for three weeks or more.