Dame Deborah James has revealed how designing her upcoming clothing collection was ‘bringing her to life’ while she was still receiving treatment for bowel cancer.
The 40-year-old will launch her collection with InTheStyle this evening, to raise money for the bowelbabe fund, which has hit more than £6.5 million since she announced she’s receiving end-of-life care at her parents’ home in Woking.
Her collection with InTheStyle is available to pre-order on the app for 48 hours from 7pm tonight.
Deborah has been living with stage four bowel cancer since she was diagnosed in December 2016 and said designging the collection gave her something to focus on other than her illness.
‘From now until I die, I’m wearing a different dress each day. Sounds slightly odd and morbid but I’m enjoying it so much,’ she said.
Dame Deborah James, 40, from London, is currently receiving end of life care at her parents home in Woking after announcing her terminal bowel cancer diagnosis. Today, the cancer campaigner told her Instagram followers that she has launched a collection with InTheStyle to raise money for the bowelbabe fund, which currently stands at more than £6.5 million
Deborah has been living with stage four bowel cancer since she was diagnosed in 2016. She was told she would not live beyond five years but passed that milestone in August 2021. The 40-year-old told her Instagram followers that she wanted to do the collection as it is something ‘totally’ different to cancer
In a video announcing the news on her Instagram, Dame Deborah answered questions about the collection.
Revealing the process of designing her collection, she said that at the time, she was living a ‘hybrid’ life and working between home and the hospital.
But she said: ‘We made it, we got it done. I was enjoying it. It was kind of bringing me to life, it was giving me something else to think about.’
Speaking after she released a charity t-shirt with the same brand where the profits also went to the bowelbabe fund, she said that she had designed the collection as she loves fashion and clothes and they make her happy. Deborah is pictured here in one of the charity t-shirts with her daughter Eloise
The 40-year-old said that the collection was designed while she was at hospital and at home and that it ‘brought her to life’ and allowed her to think about something else. Deborah is pictured with husband Sebastien while she visited her rose at the Chelsea Flower show yesterday
‘The reason that I really wanted to do it is because it is something totally different to cancer.
‘I love fashion. Anybody that has followed me for years and years knows I love my dresses’, she said.
‘I am always hunting for the best prints. I love clothes, it makes me happy.’
The 40-year-old said she ‘really hopes’ everyone loves the collection as much as she loved designing it and that the clothing brings joy to people and makes them feel great when they put them on.
Dame Deborah shared that she will be wearing a different dress from the collection every day from now until she dies
Rounding off her video, she revealed that she will be wearing a different dress from the collection from now until she dies.
She acknowledged that it sounds ‘slightly morbid’ but she is really enjoying it.
Her announcement of her collection comes after she recently told The Sun that she was ‘scared to fall asleep’ because she does not know how long she has got left.
She added she had felt a ‘deep love’ from her family, saying: ‘I think my family are knackered, they have all been incredible – going above and beyond to look after me and nurse me.’
Dame Deborah’s collection announcement comes after she was yesterday pictured smiling as she toured around the Chelsea Flower Show, visiting the exhibitions and meeting with TV presenter Sophie Raworth
It comes after Deborah yesterday visited the Chelsea Flower Show as she had a rose named after her by the Harkness Rose Company.
She toured the flower show gardens with her husband Sebastien and TV presenter Sophie Raworth.
And speaking of her end of life care recently she said: ‘I feel very strongly that I don’t want my kids to see me agitated and distressed. I want to make sure they see me when I’m having a good days.’
Saying the ‘pressure’ on her young children was ‘huge’, she continued: ‘I want them to have nice memories.
BBC presenter Sophie Raworth smiled with Deborah as she visited the flower show with her husband Sebastien. Deborah was also handed a glass of bubbly during the trip to see the rose named after her
‘I don’t want them to take on the burden of having to care for me, massage my legs because I can’t walk. That would break my heart.’
Deborah spoke of seeing her grandparents when they were ill and said she was determined that her children will not see that and will have good memories.
And she said she has been asking the hospice team when she will know ‘it is time.’
She said: ‘I want to know when I need to get my kids back from school, to say goodbye to them.’
Deborah recently received a Damehood which was personally delivered by Prince William, who came to her parents’ home in Woking to have afternoon tea with the 40-year-old and her family
The 40-year-old has also told her team that she is ‘very happy’ to be sedated when the time is right.
It comes after she was praised by Prince William who called her ‘brilliant, brave and inspirational’ as he met some of the staff who treated her.
Speaking at the Royal Marsden to patient Lorraine Kimber, 59, from Essex, who is currently undergoing treatment for pancreatic cancer and knows Mrs James well, the prince described his meeting with her.
‘She was incredible, incredible. She was surrounded by her family, we had a lovely afternoon,’ he said.
Prince William also praised Deborah, calling her brilliant, brave and inspirational while speaking at the Royal Marsden to patient Lorraine Kimber from Essex who is undergoing treatment for pancreatic cancer and knows the 40-year-old well
‘You know she’s had over 100 tumours. Which is unbelievable. I couldn’t believe that. The resilience you have to have to keep going back again, it’s got to be very draining on you.’
William said: ‘She was joking…because they are a very tight family, very close, you could see that….she was joking that at last she could now drink.
‘She said it was brilliant. She was ‘triple parked’ and kept on joking about how many drinks she could get lined up in front of her.
‘She’s realising that being at home is just where she wants to be right now, surrounded by all her loved ones. She spoke very eloquently and very knowledgably about all the cancer treatments, not just her own.
Prince William, who is seen leaving the Royal Marsden after learning about work being done to improve cancer diagnosis and treatment, said that Deborah is ‘fantastic’ and that he was honoured to be able to speak to her
‘She has obviously done her research and was very passionate about making sure the money raised goes straight towards finding more treatments, speeding things up. She was very strong about that.
‘It’s amazing really in the world we live in that still talking openly and movingly about cancer is not as common as it should be. So many people are affected by cancer.
‘I love Deborah, she’s fantastic. Her legacy is massive. She said bowel cancer wasn’t a sexy as breast cancer, her words, but it’s true though.
‘There are so many cancers and some get a bit more publicity than others. And she wanted to make sure some of the less sexy, the less well-known cancers get more knowledge and understanding about them.
Deborah smiles with the rose which Harkness Rose Company named after her. She said she was honoured and cried when she found out that the company wanted to name the rose after her
‘I was very honoured to be able to speak to her. It felt like a very personal family moment that I was there for. It was a glorious day as well. Thank you to you all for what you have done for her. She spoke very highly about her care. It was a touching moment. ‘
He added: ‘I met her children as well. It was very difficult talking to them about it but they seem to have been talking about the situation a lot.
‘That’s so important in those moment that the family talk and communicate about it and the children are brought into what is going on.
‘They seem like such a lovely family, the parents were there was well. It was such a very special moment, it really was. A lot of parents and families I can imagine don’t know how to brooch the subject.
The 40-year-old also recently shared that she had written another book about her experiences which she wanted to share with her Instagram followers before her death and said she had spent the last two years writing it
‘It’s so difficult to talk about. But they were very open. I was asked lots of questions. It got me quite moved that they wanted to hear those answers, it was so open. Thank you so much for looking after her so well. She is a brave and inspirational woman.’
It emerged last week that Deborah will make her final television appearance on Channel 4 programme Embarrassing Bodies in a final bid to raise awareness of bowel cancer.
The campaigner filmed an episode of the show earlier this year and has given her blessing for the programme to be aired in the event of her death.
In emotional scenes, the mother-of-three will tell young people her story while pressing her ‘check your poo’ message.
Deborah also recently met a Lego model of herself and shared the moment on her Instagram, saying ‘all her Lego dreams have just come true’ and that she ‘adores’ Lego
She told The Sun: ‘I might not live to see the episode air but I hope the message to ‘Check your poo’ will live on, long after I’m gone.
‘It might be embarrassing but it might just save your life. Early diagnosis of things like bowel cancer saves lives. So don’t live to regret it, and don’t risk dying because you’re shy.’
Channel 4 has not yet scheduled the programme, but it expected to air in June and will see various celebrities including share personal stories to raise awareness of various medical conditions.
Deborah was diagnosed with stage four bowel cancer in December 2016, and was told early on that she might not live beyond five years – a milestone that passed in the autumn of 2021.
She shared an Instagram post earlier this month revealing that ‘nobody knows how long she has left’.
She wrote: ‘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.’
She is receiving hospice care at her parents’ home in Woking, to spare her children the difficult memories of her spending her final days at the family home in London.
HOW DEPUTY HEAD TURNED SOCIAL MEDIA STAR HAS TRANSFORMED BOWEL CANCER AWARENESS
In December 2016, the West London mother-of-two, a deputy head, was diagnosed ‘late’ with incurable bowel cancer
After sharing her experiences on living with the disease on social media, Deborah became known as the ‘Bowel Babe’
In 2018, she became one of three presenters on Radio 5 Live’s You, Me and the Big C, which was conceived by her late co-host Rachael Bland
On September 5th 2018, Welsh journalist and presenter Bland, diagnosed with terminal breast cancer, died at the age of 40
Deborah and her co-host Lauren Mahon continue to present the show, with Steve Bland, Rachael’s husband, joining the duo
On social media and in her column for the Sun newspaper, Deborah has documented the many chemo, radiotherapy sessions and surgery she’s had since
During her treatment, Deborah told followers on Instagram ‘By my general lack of being on here (dancing!), that Things have moved (in the wrong direction) very quickly cancer wise.’
In 2019, she had a procedure known as CyberKnife, a highly targeted form of radiotherapy to attack an inoperable lymph node close to her liver
The pandemic’s impact on cancer services saw her campaign for care to continue as normal and, earlier this year, she launched the ITV’s Lorraine’s ‘No Butts’ campaign, raising awareness on bowel cancer symptoms
Since last year, she has been taking new experimental drugs as part of a trial after her oncology team gave her the green light to do so
August, Deborah revealed that scans she’s had in recent days have revealed her cancer has gone in the ‘wrong direction very quickly’
She told followers she would be taking a break on social media over the weekend to ‘snuggle’ with her family ahead of more scans
The mother-of-two said a new ‘rapidly-growing’ tumour near her liver had wrapped itself around her bowel
On October 1, Deborah celebrates her 40th birthday
By October 18, the mother-of-two told her followers her chemotherapy is working
Days later, she was rushed to A&E with ‘spiking 40 degree temperatures’
In November, she reveals she is unable to walk for more than 20 minutes and remains ‘very weak’
By December, Deborah said she was ‘not sure what her options were’ after her liver stent ‘stopped working’
In January, she had five operations in 10 days after nearly dying in an acute medical emergency
January 25, Deborah returns home from hospital after three weeks
March 14, the mother-of-two is back in hospital as an in-patient after suffering from septic infection
In April, she concerned fans with snaps after suffering ‘a rough few days’
April 14, the mother-of-two tells fans she has been discharged from hospital but calls the situation ‘very tough’
April 27, she tells Lorraine that she has spent ’80 per cent’ of the year in hospital
May 9 – Deborah announces she has moved to hospice care