Dame Deborah James's mother reflects on 'most difficult year'

‘I have mixed emotions about 2023’: Dame Deborah James’s mother reflects on the ‘most difficult and challenging year’ following her daughter’s death

  • Dame Deborah James’s mother shared heartfelt message reflecting on past year
  • Heather James, 65, remarked on the pride she feels for her late daughter
  • The British broadcaster, known as Bowel Babe, died of bowel cancer last June 
  • She recently remarked on festive season without Deborah during walk in Surrey 
  • READ MORE: Dame Deborah James’s mother thanks public for support

Dame Deborah James’s mother has penned a heartfelt social media post reflecting on ‘the most difficult and challenging year’.

Heather James, 65, remarked that she is ‘so proud’ of all her daughter – who died at the age of 40 in June, five years after being diagnosed with stage 4 cancer when she found blood in her stool – has achieved. 

‘She will always be sadly missed but never forgotten,’ the poignant Instagram message read. ‘Going into a New Year I have mixed emotions about what lies ahead and what it will be like.’

It was the first festive season that the mother-of-three and grandmother-of-four spent without Deborah – a broadcaster and former headteacher known as Bowel Babe.

Dame Deborah James’s mother has penned a heartfelt social media post reflecting on ‘the most difficult and challenging year’ as she snapped a photo of her late daughter’s dog Winston

Snapping a picture of her late daughter’s cavapoo Winston, Heather added: ‘As we move into 2023 I will do my best to follow Deborah’s mantra – “find a life worth enjoying; take risks; love deeply; have no regrets; and always, always have rebellious hope. And finally check your poo – it could just save your life.”

‘Wishing 2023 brings health, happiness, kindness and peace to all.’ 

Heather also took to social media a few days earlier as she candidly opened up about the pain of dealing with Deborah’s death six months on.

She shared a video of herself walking Winston to the soundtrack of Maroon 5’s Memories, at a local park in Surrey.

Writing on social media, Deborah’s mother penned: ‘As many of you will be aware tomorrow till mark six months since Deborah died and on some days this has felt like an eternity but on others is just like it was yesterday.’

It was the first festive season that the mother-of-three and grandmother-of-four spent without Deborah (both pictured together) 

Heather (pictured) also took to social media a few days earlier as she candidly opened up about the pain of dealing with Deborah’s death six months on

She reflected on the family’s first Christmas without Deborah saying that they had ‘spent the last few days remembering all that Deborah achieved along with many good memories’.

However, the post said that it was ‘also tinged with sadness’ knowing how much her daughter loved Christmas and the build up to the the big day. 

Heather’s Instagram post read:  ‘It was lovely to walk today as nature and fresh air can help boost your spirits at challenging times. Thank you for all your lovely messages, your love and support has meant a great deal to me over the past few months. 

‘As many of you will be aware tomorrow will mark six months since Deborah died and on some days this has felt like an eternity but on others it is just like it was yesterday. Christmas can be hard when you’ve lost someone close to you. 

She shared a video of herself walking Winston to the soundtrack of Maroon 5’s Memories, at a local park in Surrey

‘We have spent the last few days remembering all that Deborah achieved along with many good memories but this was also tinged with sadness at knowing how much she loved Christmas and was always the life and soul of our celebrations. 

‘I hope you all had a peaceful happy Christmas and if also feeling the loss of someone close to you that you were able to raise a glass in celebration of their life and remember the good times as we did for Deborah.’

Last month Heather and her husband Alistair laid tributes for the daughter at The Royal Marsden Foundation Trust in London, where Deborah underwent cancer treatment for five years.

Heather shared the moment on Instagram and said losing someone makes ‘Christmas particularly hard.’ 

Dame Deborah James’s parents Heather (left) and Alistair (right) laid tributes to her at The Royal Marsden Foundation Trust in London, where she underwent cancer treatment for 5 years

She captioned the post: ‘A poignant evening visiting the Ever After Garden in aid of The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity. 

‘We felt it important to see the heartwarming sea of illuminated roses each one with a special message written in memory of a loved one. 

‘For us it was also very special to see a memorial plaque in honour of Deborah at a place that has ment so much to her over the past few years. 

‘Thinking about everyone who has lost someone over the last year which makes this Christmas particularly hard.’ 

Heather looked at the heartwarming sea of illuminated roses-each one with a special message written in memory of a loved one

In one picture Heather placed a message to her late daughter in the field of illuminating roses which read: ‘Deborah James our darling daughter we will miss you forever, love Mum xxx’

While another message read: ‘Deborah keep your light shining forever, may your legacy remain, Dad.’

Earlier last year in November, Heather recalled the moment her daughter told her she was unable to go on when her health dramatically deteriorated in 2022.

In a video for Stand Up to Cancer, Dame Deborah’s mother Heather – also dubbed ‘Bowel Gran’ – spoke of how her daughter struggled in hospital for the first few months of 2022 after suffering a severe haemorrhage. 

Heather said it was very special to see a memorial plaque in honour of Deborah at The Royal Marsden

She revealed it was the first time Deborah – who raised £7 million for Cancer Research UK – had admitted she did not have the will to continue with treatment.  

‘From then on, Deborah basically lived in The Royal Marsden and slowly deteriorated and I can remember her saying one day “I can’t do this anymore”,’ Heather revealed. ‘And that’s the first time she’d ever said [that].’

Deborah’s mother also opened up about her daughter’s moving last few months after the inspirational broadcaster left the hospital in May 2022 to be with her family.  

Heather recently recalled the moment her daughter told her she was unable to go on as her health deteriorated due to her bowel cancer diagnosis

In a video for Stand Up to Cancer, Dame Deborah’s mother Heather – also dubbed ‘Bowel Gran’ – spoke of how her daughter struggled in hospital for the first few months of 2022. Both pictured together

Deborah (pictured) who hosted podcast You, Me and the Big C, passed away in 2022 after first being diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2016 at 35

‘I can remember her saying “I’m coming home to die but I don’t want to die”,’ she recalled emotionally. ‘And I went, “I know you don’t want to die darling”.’

Heather described the last couple of month’s of Deborah’s life as both the ‘best eight weeks as a family’, as well as ‘the saddest one could ever, ever go through’.  

Candidly recounting the moment she passed away, Heather said her daughter’s ‘breathing changed’ as a hospice nurse confirmed she ‘was dying’.

‘And we were just so grateful we were all there at that last moment,’ her mother said. ‘She was a force of nature. she was always lively, enthusiastic, such a zest for life.’

Deborah’s mother also opened up about her daughter’s moving last few months after the inspirational broadcaster left the hospital in May 2022 to be with her family

Sharing the clip on her Instagram, Heather wrote: ‘I was privileged to take part in the making of this short film about Deborah’s life to support @su2cuk.

‘It is the 10th anniversary of this charity which was close to Deborah’s heart.’

Deborah, who hosted podcast You, Me and the Big C, passed away in summer 2022, after first being diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2016 at 35.

Heather told the Stand Up to Cancer clip how proud she was of her daughter’s Bowel Babe identity.

‘She wanted to be a babe, she could hide behind it, and I’m very proud of that point, that she put to the side her pain and she would be there 24/7 for anybody that needed her,’ she said. 

READMORE:

‘Christmas can be hard when you’ve lost someone close to you’: Dame Deborah James’s mother thanks public for support as she marks six months since her daughter’s passing 

‘May your legacy live on’: Dame Deborah James’s parents lay tributes to her at The Royal Marsden where she had cancer treatment for 5 years

Dame Deborah James’ mother recalls heartbreaking moment her daughter told her ‘I can’t do this anymore’ before she died from bowel cancer 

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