Raise a glass to Dame Debs! Lorraine Kelly leads toasts to her friend after the campaigner’s parents launched new social media campaign to celebrate their daughter
- Heather and Alistair James called for people to toast to daughter Dame Deborah
- Campaigner, 40, died after a five-year-long fight with bowel cancer on Tuesday
- Spent last month in Woking at her parents’ home after moved to hospice care
Lorraine Kelly raised her glass to Dame Deborah after the campaigner’s parents invited followers to toast their daughter in a new social media campaign.
Presenter Lorraine joined Ria Hebden to raise a glass of fizz at the start of her show this morning and admitted she still has not ‘processed’ her friend’s death.
Deborah’s parents Alistair and Heather James, who cared for their daughter during her final days at their house in Woking, took to Instagram last night to ask people to raise a glass to honour their daughter’s memory.
Heather, who is known as Bowel Gran, shared a picture of her and her husband cheersing to Debs, who passed away aged 40 after a five-year-long battle with bowel cancer.
Presenter Lorraine joinedRia Hebden to raise a glass of fizz at the start of her show this morning and admitted she still has not ‘processed’ her friend’s death
Deborah’s parents Alistair and Heather James, who cared for their daughter during her final days at their house in Woking, took to Instagram last night to ask people to raise a glass to honour their daughter’s memory
Lorraine and Ria raised a glass of champagne to honour Dame Deborah’s legacy on today’s show
Deborah passed away this week following a five-year-long battle with bowel cancer. Her mother said she was ‘heart-broken’
Lorraine publicised the campaign, saying ‘should we do that for Dame Debs?’ before raising a glass of champagne with Ria.
Deborah’s parents were endlessly supportive of their daughter, with the couple welcoming their daughter into their home in Woking during the final weeks of her life for hospice care.
Her mother Heather, grandmother-to-four and mother-to-three, was a constant support for the former deputy head teacher turned cancer campaigner, who had been living with stage four bowel cancer since she was diagnosed in December 2016.
She was by her side during countless hospital stays, joined in with Deborah’s viral ‘chemo dances’, in which the pair would shake a leg to help the presenter get through another chemotherapy cycle, and cared for her grandchildren ‘at the drop of a hat’.
Meanwhile her father Alistair took a more low-key approach, and made fewer public appearances on her social media page – but in her final weeks, Deborah paid tribute to her father and spoke of her love for him.
Ria Hebden also took part in the toast for Dame Deborah with Lorraine Kelly this morning as she appeared on the show
Heather (pictured right) was by her side during countless hospital stays, joined in with Deborah’s viral ‘chemo dances’, in which the pair would shake a leg to help the presenter get through another chemotherapy cycle, and cared for her grandchildren ‘at the drop of a hat’
Dame Deborah was surrounded by her family when she saw that her Bowelbabe Fund had reached £1million mere days after she set it up
Meanwhile Deborah’s father Alistair was decidedly more private, and appears not to have social media – yet she called him her ‘unsung hero’, and said he was always ‘very calming’ acting ‘behind the scenes’
In her final podcast, Deborah (pictured with her mother) revealed she had decided to live out her days at her parents’ bungalow in Woking to spare her children from constant reminders in their London home – and because she can’t get up the stairs to use the lavatory
In her final You, Me and the Big C podcast, released earlier this month, Deborah (left) emotionally said goodbye to her faithful listeners and revealed she had decided to live out her days at her parents’ bungalow in Woking
HOW DEPUTY HEAD TURNED SOCIAL MEDIA STAR TRANSFORMED BOWEL CANCER AWARENESS
- In December 2016, the West London mother-of-two, a deputy head, was diagnosed ‘late’ with incurable bowel cancer
- After sharing her experiences on living with the disease on social media, Deborah became known as the ‘Bowel Babe’
- In 2018, she became one of three presenters on Radio 5 Live’s You, Me and the Big C, which was conceived by her late co-host Rachael Bland
- On September 5 2018, Welsh journalist and presenter Bland, diagnosed with terminal breast cancer, died at the age of 40
- Deborah and her co-host Lauren Mahon continued to present the show, with Steve Bland, Rachael’s husband, joining the duo
- On social media and in her column for The Sun newspaper, Deborah documented the many chemo, radiotherapy sessions and surgery she’d had since
- In 2019, she had a procedure known as CyberKnife, a highly targeted form of radiotherapy to attack an inoperable lymph node close to her liver
- The pandemic’s impact on cancer services saw her campaign for care to continue as normal and, she launched the ITV’s Lorraine’s ‘No Butts’ campaign, raising awareness on bowel cancer symptoms
- Since last year, she had been taking new experimental drugs as part of a trial after her oncology team gave her the green light to do so
- In August, Deborah revealed that scans she’d had in recent days revealed her cancer had gone in the ‘wrong direction very quickly’
- The mother-of-two said a new ‘rapidly-growing’ tumour near her liver had wrapped itself around her bowel
- On October 1, Deborah celebrated her 40th birthday
- By October 18, the mother-of-two told her followers her chemotherapy was working
- Days later, she was rushed to A&E with ‘spiking 40 degree temperatures’
- In November, she revealed she is unable to walk for more than 20 minutes and remained ‘very weak’
- By December, Deborah said she was ‘not sure what her options were’ after her liver stent ‘stopped working’
- In January, she had five operations in 10 days after nearly dying in an acute medical emergency
- On January 25, Deborah returned home from hospital after three weeks
- On March 14, the mother-of-two was back in hospital as an in-patient after suffering from septic infection
- In April, she concerned fans with snaps after suffering ‘a rough few days’
- On April 14, the mother-of-two told fans she had been discharged from hospital but called the situation ‘very tough’
- On April 27, she told Lorraine Kelly that she had spent ’80 per cent’ of the year in hospital
- On May 9, Deborah announced she had moved to hospice care
- 28 June, Debora’s family announced she has died
Heather – who is a pre-school gymnastic coach – had also ensured Deborah’s fans are kept up-to-date with her condition, by sharing updates on her own Instagram page @bowelgran, and stepped in for her daughter when she was too unwell to make events.
One such occasion was to launch the ‘No Butts’ campaign alongside Lorraine Kelly, which aimed to raise awareness of bowel cancer on the Scottish host’s daytime programme from 19 April to 5 May.
Praising her mother’s appearance, Deborah said on Instagram: ‘I’m so proud of my mum today for stepping in to help launch the #NoButts campaign with @lorraine.
‘This campaign is something I’m so passionate about. So of course I’m gutted not to be well enough to be there in person (yet!).’
Deborah was equally full of praise for her mother on Heather’s birthday last year, writing online: ‘Thank you for everything you do for all of us, especially for relentlessly nursing me back to health, again, and again and again!
‘From hiding in my hospital room to ensure I get my drugs, to sleeping on the sofa with me when I’m scared, to cutting up my toast into tiny squares so I can just nibble them when not hungry!
‘To being there for my kids at the drop of a hat, and for being up for any form of dancing, fashion parade or crazy game I come up with! I’m fully aware where I get most of my ‘quirky’ traits from!
‘I’m hoping you can spend the day not worrying about me,’ she concluded.
The following day, Deborah posted a video as she danced to Stayin’ Alive by the Bee Gees in the garden with her mother while wearing matching outfits.
‘It’s chemo dance time! You know each cycle I dance whilst attached to the pump,’ she explained in her caption. But with with my kids in France, my mum has stepped up this time! Seeing as she’s literally been nursing me every second for the last month, keeping me alive, I don’t think there could ever be a more apt routine!!’
‘Here’s to another chemo cycle and to mothers helping us through them,’ wrote the mother-of-two.
In January, Heather shared a snap to Instagram showing her posing with her daughter in a hospital bed as she explained that the presenter had undergone five operations in 10 days following a medical emergency during which she almost died.
She said: ‘How she does it time and time again blows me away. It’s early hours, but it went to plan.
‘The aim was to internalised her bile stent if it was working which so far it seems to be.
‘Obviously now she’s kept under close monitoring but she’s really happy (and emotional) because she has no drains for the first time in weeks.
‘We just have to pray she remains stable for the foreseeable future now. Due to the operation today, I was allowed to see her briefly as her nominated visitor – which I’m grateful for.’
Heather continued: ‘Visiting in Covid is a really hard balance and it’s heartbreaking that families can’t see their loved ones more – I can’t imagine what families went through in full lock down (including in our own family).
‘Deborah certainly needs the support hence why I was allowed in, but risk has to be kept super low.
‘Mental health is so important though, we can’t underestimate how it helps with recovery. I see it with Deborah. I recall times pre Covid when I used to sleep in the same room over night!
‘As is usual she asked for her make up as soon as she came round which is always a good sign!’ She went on to hashtag the post with #MotherDaughter and #OneDayAtATime.
In her final podcast, Deborah revealed she had decided to live out her days at her parents’ bungalow in Woking to spare her children from constant reminders in their London home – and because she can’t get up the stairs to use the lavatory.
In March, the cancer campaigner was allowed out of hospital on day release to spend her final Mother’s Day with her family (pictured left to right, Deborah James, her mother Heather James, father Alistair, her unnamed niece, husband Sebastien sister Sarah, a second unnamed niece, her brother-in-law, her brother’s girlfriend Ashley, her son Hugo and her brother Ben). The tight-knit group are believed to have been by Deborah’s side when she died
Deborah previously posted a video as she danced to Stayin’ Alive by the Bee Gees in the garden with her mother while wearing matching outfits (pictured)
Heather has ensured Deborah’s fans are kept up-to-date with her condition, by sharing updates on her own Instagram page @bowelgran, and stepped in for her daughter when she was too unwell to make events, such as this Lorraine appearance on TV, pictured
Heather (pictured), grandmother-to-four and mother-to-three, was a constant support for the former deputy head teacher turned cancer campaigner, who has been living with stage four bowel cancer since she was diagnosed in December 2016
Meanwhile Deborah called her father Alistair her ‘unsung hero’, telling The Sun: ‘I’ve not always been a big one for telling Dad how much I love him, so take it from me, just say it. You never know when it might be your last chance.’
She continued: ‘He’s quietly there behind the scenes, making sure I am OK.
‘He’s always been a very calming, loving presence in my life — he’s very good at handling me and all my craziness. His patience knows no bounds.’
Meanwhile she added: ‘It breaks my heart knowing they are having to watch this, I can’t imagine what it must feel like.’
Shortly after an Instagram post was shared to Deborah’s page announcing the news last night, Heather reposted the image, saying she was ‘heartbroken’ by her daughter’s death.
Happier times: Heather James pictured with her daughter Deborah James and her grandchild Eloise
Heather had ‘relentlessly nursed’ Deborah (pictured together), 40, back to health ‘again, and again and again’
Deborah’s parents Heather and Alistair were endlessly supportive of their daughter, with the couple welcoming their daughter into their home in Woking during the final weeks of her life for hospice care
Meanwhile her parents Heather (left) and Alistair (right) offered endless support to their daughter throughout her cancer battle, even opening their Woking bungalow to her to receive end-of-life care
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