Sebastien Bowen, the husband of bowel cancer campaigner Dame Deborah James, has spoken about his wife’s “incredibly peaceful” last moments in his first interview since her death.
Dame Deborah, also known by her social media handle Bowel Babe, died on June 28 at the age of 40 after being diagnosed with bowel cancer almost six years ago.
Mr Bowen, who married the former deputy headteacher and campaigner in France in 2008, said what he'll miss most about his wife is her "rare" ability of "finding joy in every moment – even in the darkest of times".
Speaking of the moments before she passed, he told The Sun: “I kissed her on the head.
“I told her how much I loved her, that I would look after the kids and the last thing I said to her was that I was so proud of her. Then she slipped away.
“She had an incredibly peaceful death, if there was a way to die well, then she managed it.
“At the very end, it was quite spiritual.”
The couple share two children, 14-year-old Hugo and 12-year-old Eloise.
In early May, Dame Deborah revealed she had stopped active treatment and was receiving end-of-life care at her parents’ home in Woking, with her husband and their two children on hand.
The podcaster was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2016 and subsequently kept her one million Instagram followers up to date with her treatments.
Her candid posts about her progress and diagnosis, including videos of her dancing her way through treatment, won praise from the public and media alike.
Alongside Lauren Mahon and Rachael Bland, she launched the You, Me And The Big C podcast in 2018.
The trio, who were all former or current cancer patients, candidly discussed life with, treatment of and other topics relating to cancer.
Bland died in September that year at the age of 40, two years after being diagnosed with breast cancer, making Mahon, 37, the only surviving original host.
Speaking about his wife’s achievements during the final months of her life, Bowen said: “I’m in total awe of Debs, I’m in awe of what she did and how she went about it.”
He also revealed what he misses most about Dame Deborah, saying: “It’s her magic, her way of finding joy in every moment – even in the darkest of times. That’s what I’ll miss most, it’s quite a rare thing.
“It was at the very core of what made her unique.”
For her efforts, she was made a dame, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson saying: “If ever an honour was richly deserved, this is it.”
Dame Deborah later said she felt “honoured and shocked” to even be considered for the honour.
In another surprise, her damehood was conferred by the Duke of Cambridge, who joined her family for afternoon tea and champagne at home.
Damehoods are usually handed out by members of the royal family, including William, at investiture ceremonies which take place at royal palaces including Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle.
Shortly before her death Dame Deborah also revealed she had completed her second book, titled How To Live When You Could Be Dead, due to be published on August 18.
Her first book, F*** You Cancer: How To Face The Big C, Live Your Life And Still Be Yourself, was published in 2018.
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
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.
However, the NHS recommends seeing your GP if you have had any of these symptoms for three weeks or more.
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