'I'm happy because I'm so proud of what she's left behind'
Dame Deborah James’ mum said she is both "happy and sad" as her daughter's book, which she finished in the last weeks of her life, was released.
Marking the release of Deborah's book How To Live When You Could Be Dead, which was released posthumously on Thursday, mum Heather spoke of her pride in her daughter's legacy.
She told ITV News: "For me, the whole book is amazing. There was a part that said it’s OK to be happy and sad... because I’m happy and sad at the moment, because of course I'm sad, I’ve lost my daughter - she's died.
"But I'm happy because I'm so proud of what she's left behind and it’s... please go out and continue living your life and enjoy your life, otherwise I haven’t done her justice."
'I brought her into this world and I saw her out of this world'
Deborah, who died on June 28, began writing her book two years ago, with the final two chapters done when she knew her time was limited.
Mrs James said she achieved more in her last eight weeks than "people do in a lifetime", despite being "so poorly" and while raising millions for charity.
"We didn’t know we were going to get eight weeks, we thought we were only going to get perhaps a week," she said.
"Deborah was not going to go that quickly and she had too much to do - and to achieve what she did in that eight weeks is more than what people do in their lifetime, and when she was so ill and so poorly."
She added: "But her grit and determination to keep going until her last breath is how we coped, and her just wanting every last minute that she could squeeze out of her life."
The former headteacher was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2016 when she was 35 and kept her more than 500,000 Instagram followers up to date with her treatments.
She became famous for her podcasting and journalism detailing what life with cancer was like and raising awareness of the symptoms.
Her efforts have placed her as a figurehead of a condition that many people shy away from.
Earlier, on ITV's Lorraine show, Mrs James also revealed she is increasingly struggling to cope with the loss of the 'Bowel Babe' cancer campaigner as time goes on.
"I actually find it harder now since the weeks go on because it’s been longer since I’ve spoken to her," she said.
Mrs James described the last two chapters of the book as "emotional."
“Not the ending she expected when she started the book two years ago - she didn’t know then how long she’d have, but she had two extra years which was amazing," she said.
Deborah James' mum Heather reminisces on her last weeks with her daughter
On how the family are coping with the loss of mum-of-two Deborah, Mrs James said: “We knew she’d come home to die, but you still had that bit of hope, ‘did they get it wrong?"
She added: “This is out of my comfort zone... I know she’s with me in spirit and I know she’s looking down and saying, ‘Mum, you can do this.’
"She gave me the confidence while she was here and I’m hoping, with her help, I can still have the confidence and get the word out about cancer and checking your poo and being positive about living a good life when things go wrong.”
Reflecting on her daughter's sunny outlook, Heather said: “She was such a positive person, full of energy, right up to the last breath she took."
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"She wanted life and loved life so much and she wanted everyone else to experience the positivity of life - what a great way to lead your life and if we could all just take a little bit of that hope and positivity and mindset - that is hopefully what the book will help you achieve.”
She also revealed Deborah had been "a very hard child to bring up" due to her "very determined" personality.
"So determined, there would be a battle going on, but she always enjoyed her life, lived it to the full, never had enough hours, enough minutes of the day.
"Even as a very young child, ‘could we not put more than 24 hours in the day? Who chose 24 hours in the day?’”
On Prince William coming to the house for tea in the last few weeks of Deborah’s life, to honour her with a damehood, Heather revealed: “It seems surreal that all this happened in the last seven weeks of her life. She would just sort of say, ‘I want to do this’ and we’d look at her and go, ‘Ok’.
"She was still bossing us at the end! She was so determined to live every last minute.”
“We got told about Prince William coming the night before and my first thought was, ‘Oh no, I need to clean the house. I need to tidy up. I’ve got everybody living in my house now.’
"But then I thought, ‘You know what, let’s just enjoy this aspect of what she’s done. The outpouring from the public over the Bowel Babe fund was amazing.”
Lorraine airs weekdays at 9am on ITV and ITV Hub.