LONDON – Deborah James, a British broadcaster who raised millions for cancer research and was recognized by Prince William for her work, has died. She was 40.
James hosted a BBC podcast called “You, Me and The Big C" in which she spoke in a no-nonsense approach about living with bowel cancer. Her candid social media posts about her diagnosis and treatment, including videos of her dancing, garnered praise from the public.
She was diagnosed in 2016 and revealed in May that she was receiving end-of-life care at her parents' home in Woking in southern England.
She died Tuesday surrounded by her family, including her husband and their two children, according to a family statement posted on Instagram.
“We are deeply saddened to announce the death of Dame Deborah James; the most amazing wife, daughter, sister, mummy. Deborah passed away peacefully," the statement said.
Prince William personally conferred James damehood in a surprise visit to the family home only days after she announced that she was receiving end-of-life care. He joined her and her family for an afternoon tea and champagne.
James thanked the royal at the time “for going above and beyond to make a very special memory." She wrote on social media: “Can't quite believe I'm actually a Dame!”
William and his wife, Kate, paid tribute to James on Wednesday.
“We are so sad to hear the heartbreaking news about Dame Deborah. Our thoughts are with her children, her family and her loved ones,” the royal couple said in a tweet. “Deborah was an inspirational and unfalteringly brave woman whose legacy will live on.”
James launched her podcast with two other cancer patients in 2018. She set up the Bowelbabe Fund for cancer research after announcing that her life was drawing to a close. The fund has raised nearly 7 million pounds ($8.5 million) so far — well over her initial 250,000-pound target.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson hailed her work, saying in a tweet that “the awareness she brought to bowel cancer and the research her campaigning has funded will be her enduring legacy.
“Because of her, many many lives will be saved.”