Deborah James 'humbled and blown away' after being awarded damehood

Usually damehoods are given in New Year and Queen's Birthday Honours lists but in exceptional circumstances they are announced at other times of the year, reports ITV News Reporter Amy Lewis

Deborah James has said she is “humbled and blown away” after being awarded a damehood.

On Thursday night, Number 10 confirmed cancer campaigner and podcast host James, who is receiving end-of-life care at home, would be made a dame.

The 40-year-old, who is known online as Bowel Babe, said on Instagram: “I don’t even know where to start with the overwhelming tears getting in the way. I’m humbled and blown away that 5 years of talking about poo can lead to a Dame hood! I feel honoured and shocked that I even got considered.”

On Friday, James passed the £4 million mark on the Just Giving page she announced on Monday to raise money for clinical trials, researching, and raising bowel cancer awareness - more than 16 times her original £250,000 goal.

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The much-loved presenter of the BBC podcast You, Me And The Big C addressed the £4 million milestone in her Instagram post.

“These last four days of your unwavering support launching the @bowelbabefund to benefit @cr_uk , @royalmarsden And @bowelcanceruk seem like a whirl wind of surreal dreaming when each day I can’t fathom the kindness and generosity," she said.

"I can simply only give thanks for the wonderful people in the world and say the most heartfelt thank you for your unconditional support not just now but over the years."

“As I’m getting more and more sleepy and finding life a little harder, I’ve had – more time to think that I’ve never stopped to realise the impact that our podcasting, and talking, and campaigning has had over 5 years. Small chats really can save lives, small conversations can create ripples far beyond where we might see them, and seeds might grow where we’re never see their fruits. And there is something exciting and beautiful in that cycle of life," James continued.

She concluded her post by adding: “Keep loving in kindness, with rebellious hope always.”

'For once she's speechless': Lauren Mahon, co-host of You, Me And The Big C shares how Deborah is feeling about her damehood

Earlier on Friday, Steve Bland, co-host of the You, Me And The Big C podcast alongside James, and widower of former co-host Rachael Bland, who died in 2018, praised the bowel cancer campaigner for her fundraising initiative.

Appearing on BBC Breakfast, he said: “It is amazing, but this is what Deborah does. Deborah deals in the extraordinary. This is what she has done for five years.

“Everyone is focusing on the last five days, but actually Deb has been doing this for five years, ever since she was diagnosed with incurable cancer five years ago, and since then she has just been trying to help people.

“She has been banging the drum over and over and over and over – on bowel cancer symptoms, working hard to get drugs approved that she knew would help her but help loads of other people too.

Presenters Rachael Bland, Deborah James and Lauren Mahon of the show 'You Me, and the Big C'. Credit: PA

“While the last five days have been amazing – the £4 million is incredible – there are people all over the country walking around enjoying their children’s birthday parties because she has basically saved their lives.”

Bland said James had messaged him to say she would be watching the interview from her parents’ home in Woking, Surrey, where she is receiving hospice care.

He added: “I don’t know what target she will have in her mind now. Five, I guess."

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.