Dame Deborah James’ mother has paid tribute to her late daughter on World Cancer Day.
Heather James, a gymnastics coach, was a great support to her daughter as she battled bowel cancer, before passing away in June 2022.
As she marks World Cancer Day, Heather paid tribute to her daughter in a touching post on her Instagram Story.
Heather reshared a post from Dame Deborah’s Bowelbabe Fund and wrote: “Four years ago, on World Cancer Day, Deborah committed to continuing to raise awareness of bowel cancer.
‘Deborah, you will never be forgotten and, through the Bowelbabe fund, your legacy continues. I will love you and miss you forever.’
He added in another post: “What a big hole you have left in our hearts and our lives.”
Dame Deborah James’ mother paid tribute to her late daughter on Instagram to mark World Cancer Day.
Dame Deborah James died at the age of 40 on 28 June 2022 after a phenomenal campaign to raise funds for the treatment of bowel cancer.
After being diagnosed with bowel cancer when she was 35, she became a viral sensation through her social media content as she danced through chemotherapy and lived with “rebellious hope.”
Channeling her inner Celine Dion, she started a movement on TikTok to mimic her journey through It’s All Coming Back to Me Now, encouraging other people undergoing cancer treatment to join in and dress in sparkles while in the hospital.
Heather, a gym teacher, was by Deborah’s side throughout her cancer treatment, including ‘chemo dances’ at the hospital.
Dame Deborah was one of the hosts of the You, Me & The Big C podcast alongside Rachel Bland, who died in 2018, and Lauren Mahon.
Parallel to her crusade, she co-hosted the BBC podcast You, Me & The Big C with Lauren Mahon and Rachel Bland, who died of breast cancer in 2018. After her death, her husband Steve took over as presenter.
In the final months of her life, mother-of-two Deborah launched the Bowelbabe Fund, which raised more than £11 million for cancer charities.
While she spent her final days at her parents’ home in Woking, Surrey, Heather and her father Alistair helped care for their daughter, along with Deborah’s own children, Hugo and Eloise, and her husband Seb.
Heather was a constant support to the former assistant principal turned cancer activist since she was first diagnosed in 2016.
She was by her side during countless hospital stays, joined Deborah’s viral “chemo dances” and took care of her grandchildren “at the drop of a hat.”
Heather also made sure Deborah’s fans were kept up to date on her condition, sharing updates on her own Instagram page @bowelgran, and stood in for her daughter when she was unwell to attend events.
One such occasion was the launch of the ‘No Butts’ campaign alongside Lorraine Kelly, which aimed to raise awareness of bowel cancer on the Scottish presenter’s daytime show from 19 April to 5 May.
Praising her mother’s appearance, Deborah said on Instagram: “So proud of my mother today for stepping in and helping launch the #NoButts campaign with @lorraine.
‘This campaign is something that I am very passionate about. So of course I’m gutted that I’m not well enough to be there in person (yet!).’
In her final days, Dame Deborah launched a clothing line with InTheStyle based on her ‘Rebellious Hope’ mantra.
She also received her Damehood, which was personally presented by Prince William, who came to Woking for afternoon tea in Heather and Alistair’s garden.
When Deborah passed away, Heather posted a touching tribute to her daughter on Instagram.
In her Story, she shared the post announcing the cancer activist’s death and wrote, “My heart is broken.”
In another story, she said, “I will love you forever.”