INSPIRATIONAL Sun columnist Dame Deborah James' loved ones will today gather to say goodbye at her funeral.
The mum-of-two – known as BowelBabe to her legions of Instagram fans – died of bowel cancer aged just 40 last month.
After learning in May she would receive end-of-life hospice care, she began fundraising in earnest – with the total now topping an astonishing £7.4million.
Close friends and family will attend the private service in her memory today.
Her death was announced on June 28 in an Instagram post shared from her account.
It read: “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.
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“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.
“Deborah shared her experience with the world to raise awareness, break down barriers, challenge taboos and change the conversation around cancer. Even in her most challenging moments, her determination to raise money and awareness was inspiring.
“We thank you for giving us time in private as a family, and we look forward to continuing Deborah’s legacy long into the future through the @bowelbabefund
“Thank you for playing your part in her journey, you are all incredible."
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Despite being told she had an eight per cent chance of living five years, Deborah defied the odds stacked against her.
After celebrating her 40th birthday last October – a birthday she never dreamed she would live to see – the brave campaigner marked the five-year milestone a few months later.
Deborah shared every step of her journey with Sun readers in her column Things Cancer Made Me Say and her army of loyal social media followers.
She went on to present the award-winning BBC podcast You, Me and the Big C with fellow cancer patients Rachael Bland, who passed away in September 2018, Lauren Mahon and Rachael’s husband Steve.
- Donate here to keep raising money for Deborah's BowelBabe fund
In the five-and-a-half years since her diagnosis Deborah changed the conversation around bowel cancer, raising vital awareness and breaking down taboos.
She tirelessly banged the F*** Cancer drum – writing a book of the same name – and vowed to do everything she could to help others avoid her fate.
Her inspiration was the fierce love she had for her children, Eloise, 12, and Hugo, 14.
She dreamt of a future where they wouldn’t have to fear cancer, where a cure would be readily available and the disease would no longer be a killer.
She poignantly wrote in a column: “I want them to remember me as being passionate about life and living – and passionate about them.
“I want them to recall their quirky, crazy mum who danced with them in the rain, drank wine and laughed when she wanted to cry.
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“I want them to be proud of me, for making an impact and raising awareness of cancer and its signs and symptoms.
“I want them to live in a world where they don’t need to worry about cancer – and I want them to know I did everything I could to make that happen for them.
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