Deborah James told her children ‘life won’t always go to plan’ in heart-breaking last letter

·2-min read
Dame Deborah James penned a heartbreaking last letter to her children  (Dame Deborah James / Instagram)
Dame Deborah James penned a heartbreaking last letter to her children (Dame Deborah James / Instagram)

Dame Deborah James told her children that life “does not always go according to plan” in a heart-breaking letter penned shortly before her death from bowel cancer.

In the letter, published by The Sun, Dame Deborah tells her son Hugo and daughter Eloise that they are “my world”.

She writes: “I believe in self-fulfilling prophecies, I believe in rebellious hope and I believe my children will be OK when I die.

“Because if I tell them they won’t be, then they might not be. I want them to realise that life does not always go according to plan.

“You can make plans, and you can have goals, but you have to be prepared for the fact that sometimes life is more interesting when you go off-piste — so be brave.

“Take a chance and back yourself.

“Remember to be your number one cheerleader. Don’t leave the world and all it has to offer until retirement — experience it now.”

The campaigner, who became known as bowelbabe, passed away aged 40 in June after battling bowel cancer for five years.

Dame Deborah, a former deputy headteacher, was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2016 and subsequently kept her nearly 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 both the public and media.

In her final months, the presenter of the BBC podcast You, Me And The Big C raised almost £7 million for cancer research, with the amount climbing further following her death.

Earlier on Saturday, James’ husband Sebastien said he had told her how proud he was of her in her final moments.

“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.”

He added: “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.”