Dame Deborah tells children to ‘marry only for love' in final letter

The cancer campaigner, also known as Bowel Babe, died in June after suffering from bowel cancer.

Dame Deborah James told her children to “marry only for love” in a letter written to them and her husband before her death.

Dame Deborah, also known by her social media handle Bowel Babe, died on June 28 at the age of 40 after suffering from bowel cancer.

In a letter written to her husband Sebastien and children Hugo, 14, and Eloise, 12, before she died, and later published in The Sun, Dame Deborah wrote: “You can make plans, and you can have goals, but you have to be prepared for the fact that sometimes life is more interesting when you go off-piste, so be brave.

“Take a chance and back yourself.

“Remember to be your number one cheerleader.”

She added: “Learn to balance living in the now and being present in the moment with your plans for the future (although this may be the hardest lesson of all).

“Marry only for love.”

The former deputy headteacher and cancer campaigner also included the letter in her upcoming second book, How To Live When You Could Be Dead.

In early May, Dame Deborah revealed she had stopped active treatment and was receiving end-of-life care at her parents’ home in Woking, with her husband and their two children on hand.

The podcaster was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2016 and subsequently kept her one million Instagram followers up to date with her treatments.

Her candid posts about her progress and diagnosis, including videos of her dancing her way through treatment, won praise from the public and media alike.

Alongside Lauren Mahon and Rachael Bland, she launched the You, Me And The Big C podcast in 2018.

The trio, who were all former or current cancer patients, candidly discussed life with, treatment of and other topics relating to cancer.

Bland died in September that year at the age of 40, two years after being diagnosed with breast cancer, making Mahon, 37, the only surviving original host.

In a separate section of the letter about her husband, Dame Deborah wrote: “I never quite knew if you could really have a love of your life, but I now know what the very core of unquestioned love is between two people.

“I have always loved my husband.

“I fancied him from when I first met him, and I knew I would marry him after our third date.

“It was clear to me that, while he wasn’t perfect, there was something about him that was right for me.”

As a result of her campaigning efforts, James was made a dame, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson saying: “If ever an honour was richly deserved, this is it.”

Dame Deborah later said she felt “honoured and shocked” to even be considered for the honour.

In another surprise, her damehood was conferred by the Duke of Cambridge, who joined her family for afternoon tea and champagne at home.

Shortly before her death Dame Deborah revealed she had completed her second book, which is due to be published on August 18.

Her first book, F*** You Cancer: How To Face The Big C, Live Your Life And Still Be Yourself, was published in 2018.