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Dame Deborah James has revealed she’s ’embracing the feeling of the rain on her face’ in a poignant Instagram post, days after revealing she has moved to hospice care with her family.
Deborah, who has been battling stage four bowel cancer since 2016, shared photographs of her family’s garden with the message: ‘A late friend once told me to embrace the rain, because you never knew when the last time you might feel the rain on your face is… so am embracing it! Albeit with blankets’.
The former deputy head teacher turned cancer campaigner lives in London but revealed last week she will receive end-of-life care at her mother’s home in Woking to spare her children Hugo, 14, and daughter, Eloise, 12, the painful memories of her final days at home.
It comes days after Deborah, who hosted BBC podcast You, Me And the Big C, enjoyed an afternoon of tea and champagne with Prince William, as he presented her with a Damehood for her tireless fundraising efforts.
Her Bowel Babe fund, which was launched last week to raise money for Cancer Research UK, has received more than £6million in donations.
Dame Deborah James has revealed she’s ’embracing the feeling of the rain on her face’ in a poignant Instagram post, days after revealing she has moved to hospice care with her family
Deborah, who has been battling stage four bowel cancer since 2016, shared photographs of a garden with the message: ‘A late friend once told me to embrace the rain, because you never knew when the last time you might feel the rain on your face is… so am embracing it! Albeit with blankets’
Sharing pictures of the meeting on Instagram, Dame Deborah wrote: ‘Prince William actually came to our family house today!
‘I am utterly honoured that he joined us for afternoon tea and champagne, where he not only spent a generous amount of time talking to my whole family but also honoured me with my Damehood.’
She said having a royal ‘pop in’ was surreal and joked that the cleaning antics before his arrival were ‘off the scale’.
Dame Deborah (centre, with husband Sebastien Bowen left, while children Eloise, 12 and Hugo, 14, back) told her more than 630,000 Instagram followers how ‘kind’ William (right) ‘made everyone feel at ease’, adding that he was ‘welcome back any time.’
She wrote on Friday: ‘I cannot thank you for your generosity at launching the @bowelbabefund which now stands at £5.9 million, and to the @dukeandduchessofcambridge for going above and beyond to make a very special memory happen yesterday’
Deborah was made a dame by the Queen for her commitment to raising awareness and funds for bowel cancer following her diagnosis in 2016
The BBC podcaster told her then 686,000 followers: ‘Can’t quite believe I’m actually a Dame! My family are being amazing and as emotional as it all is, we are finding so much to smile about in the sadness’
‘But it was all irrelevant because William was so kind and he put us all at ease,’ she added. ‘He is clearly passionate about improving oncology outcomes as the President of the Royal Marsden.
‘It was such a special day for my whole family, making memories to last a life time. He’s welcome back any time!’
The bowelbabe JustGiving fund, for Cancer Research UK, has seen more than more than 24 times her original target of £250,000 donated, in what Deborah has described as the ‘most humbling’ experience of her life.
Taking to Instagram to post pictures of the Duke with herself and her family yesterday, Deborah said the visit gave them ‘so much to smile about in the sadness’.
The BBC podcaster wrote: ‘I believe I may have had the most surreal, mind blowing, humbling 5 days of my life.
Deborah James (pictured) was honoured with a Damehood after raising millions of pounds for charity since last Monday as she revealed she was receiving end-of-life care
‘I cannot thank you for your generosity at launching the @bowelbabefund which now stands at £5.9 million, and to the @dukeandduchessofcambridge for going above and beyond to make a very special memory happen yesterday.
‘Can’t quite believe I’m actually a Dame! My family are being amazing and as emotional as it all is, we are finding so much to smile about in the sadness.’
She admitted to ‘getting weaker and more tired’, but continued: ‘I always said I wanted to slide in sideways when my time is up, with a massive smile, no regrets and a big glass of champagne! Still my intention!!!’
Dame Deborah reached the £5million milestone on Friday after donations from more than 240,000 supporters, including William and his wife Kate.
This figure hit £6million on Sunday morning, with another 40,000 people generously donating to the cause in that time.
Her Just Giving page said it is ‘raising money to fund clinical trials and research into personalised medicine for cancer patients and supporting campaigns to raise awareness of bowel cancer’.
The former headteacher (pictured right, with children Eloise, 12, Hugo, 14 and husband Sebastien Bowen) was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2016 and has kept her more than 500,000 Instagram followers up to date with her treatments.
Last Monday, Deborah announced that despite having 17 tumours removed and undergoing new procedures she has been moved to hospice care because her ‘body simply isn’t playing ball’
It came just hours after she was made a dame by The Queen for her commitment to raising awareness and funds for bowel cancer following her diagnosis in 2016.
The monarch led praise for Deborah, saying she was ‘pleased’ to approve the Damehood, while the Prime Minister said ‘if ever an honour was richly deserved, this is it’.
On Thursday night, Number 10 confirmed that Deborah was to be made a dame, saying: ‘The Queen has been pleased to approve that the honour of Damehood be conferred upon Deborah James.’
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: ‘If ever an honour 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.’
In interview with The Sun Deborah revealed her shock at becoming a Dame, revealing: ‘I don’t know what to say. I’m blown away and feel incredibly honoured. I don’t feel like I deserve this. I can’t tell you what this means to my family, it’s so much to take in.’
Dame Deborah’s children Hugo and Eloise said they were ‘speechless’ and ‘so, so proud’, while husband Seb said a damehood was ‘something that she would never have dreamt of but it is so truly deserved’.
Damehoods and knighthoods are usually listed in the New Year or Queen’s Birthday Honours, but in exceptional circumstances some are announced at other times.
Deborah James explained how she’d had ‘hard conversations’ with the children, but put her full faith in husband Sebastien Bowen – a London banker with whom she has been married more than 13 years. She has urged him to find love again as long as it’s not a ‘bimbo’
Deborah announced earlier this week in a heartbreaking message that active treatment for her bowel cancer was stopping and that she was moving to hospice at home care
The teacher-turned-podcaster has moved millions as she announced in a heartbreaking message that active treatment for her bowel cancer was stopping and that she was moving to hospice at home care to die.
The mum is preparing to spend her final hours on her parents’ lawn surrounded by family, drinking Champagne, having been told by her hospice nurses: ‘You are dying, you can drink what you like.’
In a tearful interview she said: ‘The one thing my family know is I am petrified of being alone. I don’t want to die alone.’ And when asked about the end of her life approaching she said: ‘I have moments when I just sob uncontrollably, but I can’t spend my last few days crying, it would be such a waste. So I’m trying to compartmentalise my death’.
She said she has started her ‘to-do death list’ to support son Hugo, 14, and daughter, Eloise, 12, when she is gone, and has urged her husband Sebastien to find love, with the caveat: ‘Don’t be taken for a ride, don’t marry a bimbo’.
Dame Deborah said she has written letters for her children to help them with their first dates and wedding days, and will buy Hugo ‘a nice pen or wallet or cufflinks’ and Eloise ‘Tiffany bracelets and earrings’ to remember her – as well as some presents and postcards from her for the future.
Her funeral is also planned where she will be cremated, but she hopes her ashes will be kept in the family kitchen ‘for a while’ before being scattered.