Cancer campaigner and podcast host Deborah James has been honored with a damehood, the government has announced.
The 40-year-old disclosed earlier this week she has been moved to hospice-at-home care to treat her terminal bowel cancer and told her social media followers she does not know “how long I’ve got left”adding the previous six months have been “heartbreaking”.
She has raised more than £3.7m since she set up the Bowelbabe Fund for Cancer Research UK to coincide with her tragic update on Monday.
The presenter of the BBC Podcast You, Me and The Big C was diagnosed with the disease in 2016 and she has kept her hundreds of thousands of Instagram followers up to date with her treatments.
On Thursday night, Number 10 confirmed that the former headteacher is to be made a dame, saying: “The Queen has been pleased to approve that the honor of damehood be conferred upon Deborah James.”
Responding to the news on Instagram, James said: “Blown away and crying at the honor.”
Her original target was £250,000 and the raised money will go towards clinical trials, research and raising awareness of the illness.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson praised the mother-of-two for her work helping others with cancer.
He said: “If ever an honor was richly deserved, this is it. Deborah has been an inspiration and her honesty, warmth and courage has been a source of strength to so many people.
“Through her tireless campaigning and by so openly sharing her experience she has not only helped in our fight against this terrible disease, she has ensured countless others with the Big C have not felt alone.
“I hope this recognition from Her Majesty – backed I’m sure by the whole country – will provide some comfort to Deborah and her family at this difficult time. My thoughts are with them and Deborah should know she has the country’s love and gratitude. “
On 15 December 2021, she marked five years since her diagnosis, writing: “I’m fully aware I shouldn’t be alive to write this today.”
But in an Instagram post on Monday, she said: “The message I never wanted to write. We have tried everything, but my body simply isn’t playing ball.
“My active care has stopped and I am now moved to hospice at-home care, with my incredible family all around me and the focus is on making sure I’m not in pain and spending time with them.
“Nobody knows how long I’ve got left but I’m not able to walk, I’m sleeping most of the days, and most things I took for granted are pipe dreams.”
She added that she had left “no stone unturned” through her treatment, but even a “magic new breakthrough” wouldn’t make a difference.
She added: “Right now for me it’s all about taking it a day at a time, step-by-step and being grateful for another sunrise.
“My whole family are around me and we will dance through this together, sunbathing and laughing (I’ll cry!!) at every possible moment!
“You are all incredible, thank you for playing your part in my journey.
“No regrets. Enjoy life x Deborah.”