Entertainment

Deborah James encouraged us to be grateful for our bodies, says mother

Heather James appeared on Lorraine to mark the release of Dame Deborah's second book How To Live When You Could Be Dead.

The mother of Dame Deborah James has said the podcaster encouraged everyone to be “grateful for their body for what it can give you” – despite her scars.

Dame Deborah, known by her social media handle Bowelbabe, died on June 28 at the age of 40, five years after being diagnosed with bowel cancer.

In her final months, the presenter of the BBC podcast You, Me And The Big C raised almost £7 million for cancer research.

Her mother Heather James, whose Instagram handle is Bowelgran, spoke on ITV’s Lorraine on Thursday to mark the release of Dame Deborah’s book How To Live When You Could Be Dead.

She said: “Towards the end, unfortunately, Deborah lost the ability to walk and she got very frustrated because she was an independent, fiery person and she couldn’t walk to get a drink.

“I said to her, ‘I feel too fat in this and lines coming as you get older’, and she said, ‘Mum, if your body still helps you to live, be grateful for it’.

“If it’s fat or thin, flabby, lined or scarred – she had so many scars, but she was so grateful that it helped her live that extra few years with all the scars, so everybody must be grateful for their body for what it can give you.”

Presenter Christine Lampard said: “What a message in the modern day when we are so image-conscience.”

In her first studio interview since her daughter’s death, Ms James revealed she is finding the grief harder as time passes.

She said: “We knew she’d come home to die, but you still had that bit of hope, ‘Did they get it wrong?’

“She lived longer than the first time we were given. I actually find it harder now since the weeks go on because it’s been longer since I’ve spoken to her and, like this, she should be here doing this.

“She was such a positive person, full of energy, right up to the last breath she took.

“She wanted life and loved life so much and she wanted everyone else to experience the positivity of life – what a great way to lead your life, and if we could all just take a little bit of that hope and positivity and mindset – that is hopefully what the book will help you achieve.”

Dame Deborah began writing her second book two years ago, with the last two chapters finished while she was living at her parents’ home during the last few weeks of her life.

Ms James said: “Not the ending she expected when she started the book two years ago – she didn’t know then how long she’d have, but she had two extra years which was amazing.

“I’ve read the last chapters now and they’re very emotional but very, very good advice to the children, so that’s good.”

Lorraine airs weekdays at 9am on ITV and ITV Hub.