Bowel cancer campaigner Deborah James hails ‘incredible’ husband’s support

·2-min read

Podcast host Deborah James has praised her husband Sebastien for his “incredible” support as she receives end-of-life care for bowel cancer.

The 40-year-old former deputy headteacher said her partner had “dropped everything” and was with her 24 hours a day.

Speaking to The Times from her parents’ home in Woking, James also discussed the impact of her illness on her children, 14-year-old Hugo and 12-year-old Eloise.

James was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2016 and has since kept her more than 500,000 Instagram followers up to date with her treatments.

She said: “It’s been hideous telling my children. We have had a string of emotional conversations that have escalated very quickly from supportive care to end-of-life care.

 

“My husband Sebastien has been incredible, he has dropped everything and is with me 24/7.

“My first thought was (that) I don’t want my children to see me like this. I didn’t think I would be able to speak to them without crying, but I’d love one last cuddle with them.”

James said there are moments when she “just sobs uncontrollably” but added: “I can’t spend my last few days crying, it would be such a waste.

“So I’m trying to compartmentalise my death, otherwise how would I function?”

The campaigner, who has raised millions for cancer charities since her diagnosis, also addressed the preparations she was making for her death.

She said: “There’s quite a lot of death admin to do, in my mind I’m trying to get all the last bits sorted. I feel very calm knowing that my kids will be looked after: that was the biggest thing for me, I just wanted to know they would be OK without me.

“I don’t think they will crumble when their world crumbles.

“Retrospectively, the Covid pandemic was a massive blessing for our family. How else would we have had two years of just being together with no distraction?

“I watched every moment of them growing up in our little bubble and that makes up (for) some of the years I will lose.

“I feel confident they are doing really well; they are both now at secondary school, where they board.

“They are so happily busy, I get messages saying, ‘Sorry I can’t call you tonight’. That’s great. They can function without me.”

James has set up the Bowelbabe Fund, which has raised more than £2.5 million since it was announced at the beginning of the week. Donations can be made online.

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