Mother of Deborah James: I don't want to do Christmas but I will for my daughter

Dame Deborah James, known by her social media handle Bowelbabe, died in June at the age of 40.

The mother of Dame Deborah James said she would rather “hide” than do Christmas this year but knows the cancer campaigner would not have wanted that.

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

In the mother-of-two’s final months, the presenter of You, Me And The Big C – who started the BBC podcast alongside Lauren Mahon and Rachael Bland – raised almost £7 million for cancer research.

Her mother Heather James, whose Instagram handle is Bowelgran, spoke on ITV’s Lorraine on Wednesday about how she feels during her first Christmas without Dame Deborah.

She said: “It’s very hard. I think it’s hard for anybody who has lost anybody, but Deborah loved Christmas. She was so into it.

“The build-up to it, the enthusiasm, the sparkles and have I got that energy? I try, for her. Part of me would like to not do it, but that’s not what she wanted.”

Heather James also said they had tried to replicate Dame Deborah’s Christmas traditions, adding: “We tried to make table decorations last week and I did it with my other daughter and my future daughter-in-law.

“We cracked open the champagne, I drank most of it.

She also said: “I knew Deborah would say, ‘Mum, that’s great that you’re doing this’. But it’s putting the effort into (this) … part of me would look like to just hide and not do it.

“That’s not what we’re going to do, we’re going to celebrate Deborah.”

She is a champion of Dame Deborah’s No Butts campaign, which aims to raise awareness of bowel cancer and has the symptoms of the disease written on Serious Tissues’ toilet paper.

The mother of Dame Deborah also said her daughter had a “great legacy” which includes record numbers, released in August, of people having bowel cancer checks.

Between the months of May and July 2022, 170,500 people referred for checks for suspected lower gastro-intestinal cancers.

It is up over 30,000 compared with the same period in 2021, and nearly 80,000 higher than the same period two years ago.

In August, Dame Deborah’s posthumously published book How To Live When You Could Be Dead also debuted at number one in the UK.

It sold 40,878 copies following its release, according to Nielsen BookScan’s Total Consumer Market.

Dame Deborah was diagnosed in 2016 and 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.

Shortly before her death she was made a dame, with the then-prime minister Boris Johnson saying: “If ever an honour was richly deserved, this is it.”