Deborah James, BBC Podcast Host, Dead at 40 After Battling Bowel Cancer

The host posted an emotional farewell message on May 10, revealing she was entering hospice care

Deborah James, a U.K. podcast host for the BBC, has died. She was 40.

A heartfelt tribute shared to James' official Instagram page announced her death on Tuesday. She died following a years-long battle with bowel cancer, after being first diagnosed in 2016.

"We are deeply saddened to announce the death of Dame Deborah James; the most amazing wife, daughter, sister, mummy. Deborah passed away peacefully today, surrounded by her family," the message begins. "Deborah, who many of you will know as Bowelbabe, was an inspiration and we are incredibly proud of her and her work and commitment to charitable campaigning, fundraising and her endless efforts to raise awareness of cancer that touched so many lives."

In the post, James is saluted for her tenacious spirit in spreading awareness about cancer and her ability to "break down barriers, challenge taboos and change the conversation around cancer" in her final days.

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"Even in her most challenging moments, her determination to raise money and awareness was inspiring."

The post also noted that James' legacy will live on through her Bowelbabe Fund for Cancer Research initiative, which she announced in May, days after revealing she stopped cancer treatments and was in hospice.

"Thank you for playing your part in her journey, you are all incredible," the message continues, ending with "a few final things" from the beloved podcast host. "find a life worth enjoying; take risks; love deeply; have no regrets; and always, always have rebellious hope. And finally, check your poo – it could just save your life." x"

James announced on May 10 that she was entering hospice care, posting "the message I never wanted to write" to her Instagram.

"We have tried everything, but my body simply isn't playing ball," she wrote. "My active care has stopped and I am now moved to hospice at home care, with my incredible family all around me and the focus is on making sure I'm not in pain and spending time with them."

James added, "Nobody knows how long I've got left but I'm not able to walk, I'm sleeping most of the days, and most things I took for granted are pipe dreams. I know we have left no stone unturned. But even with all the innovative cancer drugs in the world or some magic new breakthrough, my body just can't continue anymore."

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 15: Deborah James attends The Best Heroes Awards 2019 at The Bloomsbury Hotel on October 15, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images)
Deborah James. Dave Benett/Getty

Around the same time, the You, Me and the Big C podcast host gave an interview to the BBC, in which she said she was "mind blown" to have raised more than 1 million pounds (equivalent to $1,233,00 USD) in 24 hours for her Bowelbabe Fund.

"I just cannot thank people enough for their generosity. It just means so much to me. It makes me feel utterly loved. But it makes me feel like we're all kind of in it at the end together and we all want to make a difference and say, 'You know what? Screw you cancer.' You know, we can do better," she said.

RELATED VIDEO: BBC Host Deborah James Pens Emotional 'Goodbye' Message Revealing She Is Entering Hospice Care

Speaking about her Bowelbabe Fund organization, she told the outlet, "I always knew there was one thing I wanted to do before I died. But you don't quite realize how little time we have to suddenly organize things. Had I actually thought 'Oh yes, I'm going to die,' I would have probably started organizing six months ago."

About her impending death, the mother of two shared some reflections on the final installment of her podcast.

Ahead of the episode, called Deborah James' Last Dance, producer Mike Holt explained that she recorded the episode from her parents' garden in a sunchair.

The English radio host told Holt during the installment that "minus a few days at home," she had been in the hospital from January until earlier in May, when it was determined she would need hospice care.

"I decided that I want to be at my parents' because as much as I love London, I can't even get up the steps to pee. It's kind of not practical. My parents live in a bungalow so I can see greenery and my whole family can come here," she explained.

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"It's kind of where I've always wanted to die," James added. "I kind of always had that in my mind."

She continued: "I think I always knew I didn't want to be at my London home. I think mainly, it doesn't feel right to me. There's nothing that I can describe that feels relaxing in that capacity. Don't get me wrong it's a lovely place, but I also think it's not where I can be. But it means the kids can go back there and they don't have this medical equipment, gauze, placed everywhere. It can continue to be their home without those memories, which might possibly be a good thing."

James is survived by her husband Sebastien Bowen, and children Hugo, 14, and Eloise, 12.

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