William and Kate donate to Deborah James’ cancer research fund

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The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are among those to donate to podcaster Deborah James’ new cancer research fund, as donations surpassed £3m.

The Bowelbabe fund launched on Monday, after James said she was now receiving end-of-life care for bowel cancer.

She was diagnosed in 2016 and has spoken candidly about treatment on the BBC’s You, Me and the Big C podcast.

“Thank you for giving hope to so many who are living with cancer,” Prince William and Catherine wrote on Twitter.

The couple described the mother-of-two’s “tireless efforts” raising awareness of cancer as inspirational.

“Every now and then, someone captures the heart of the nation with their zest for life & tenacious desire to give back to society. @bowelbabe is one of those special people,” they wrote.

In revealing her prognosis, the former deputy headteacher launched the fund to support research into personalised medicine for cancer patients, and to support campaigns to raise awareness of bowel cancer.

The Royal couple described James’ “tireless efforts” to raise awareness of cancer and “end the stigma of treatment” as inspiring.

They said they were sad to hear her news, but they were “pleased to support” the new fund.

“Deborah, our thoughts are with you, your family and your friends. Thank you for giving hope to so many who are living with cancer.”

What are bowel cancer symptoms?

  • A persistent change in bowel habit – going more often, with looser stools and sometimes tummy pain
  • Blood in the stools without other symptoms, such as piles
  • Abdominal pain, discomfort or bloating always brought on by eating

Source: NHS UK

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The fund, named after the 40-year-old’s online handle @bowelbabe, will work with the charity Cancer Research UK, Bowel Cancer UK and the Royal Marsden, to allocate the money.

Prince William is patron of the Royal Marsden, a specialist cancer hospital in London, where James has been treated.

Thousands of donations flooded in after she revealed the news, surpassing £1m in less than 24 hours – smashing James initial goal for the fund of £250,000.

In an interview with BBC Breakfast on Wednesday, James said the news had made her feel “utterly loved”, adding: “It makes me feel like we’re all kind of in it at the end together and we all want to make a difference.”

She also said that her dying wish was to help raise money for the “things that gave me life”, explaining that were it not for experimental treatments she would have died at least two years ago

“Ultimately what I really want to happen is I don’t want any other Deborahs to have to go through this,” James said.

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James began co-presenting You, Me and the Big C alongside Lauren Mahon and BBC Radio 5 Live newsreader Rachael Bland in 2018, with the show earning praise for its frank discussion of cancer.

They spoke to celebrity guests and addressed practical matters including hair loss, tips for dealing with finances and telling your nearest and dearest.

Bland died at the age of 40 six months after the show launched. She had been diagnosed with breast cancer two years earlier.

In her final episode of the podcast, released on Tuesday, James said her liver had stopped working over the past six months and doctors had advised that more treatment was “fruitless” because her “body does not want to play ball”.

Asked what hosting the podcast meant to her, James said it had given purpose back to her life after being diagnosed, adding the show had made her realise the influence she could have “saving another life or making someone not feel alone”.

“Yes I would give my cancer up in a second just to have a normal life again. But to be able to do it and feel like you’ve had an impact is kind of one of the best feelings you can have.”

After thanking listeners for their support over the years, she said: “Please, please just enjoy life because it’s so precious. All I want right now is more time and more life.”

She ended the show with a customary caution for people to “check your poo” for signs of bowel or other cancers, adding: “Come on, I can’t leave on on any other word.”

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If you have been affected by any of these issues in this story you can visit BBC Action Line.

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