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How Deborah James rekindled her marriage just in time

He’s the man she calls her ‘rock’, her ‘blanket’ and her ‘very backbone’ after cancer made Deborah James realise how ‘special’ the connection she shares with her banker husband Sebastien is. 

But if things had worked out differently, the BBC podcaster, 40, who this week announced she’s been moved to end-of-life care at her mother’s home in Woking, would have been facing her five-year cancer battle as a single woman.  

The pair, who have been married since July 2008, and share son Hugo, 14, and daughter, Eloise, 12, were in the midst of divorce proceedings in 2016, before rekindling their relationship a month before Deborah’s diagnosis of incurable bowel cancer.

Now, the ‘bowel babe’ has urged her City banker husband, 42, to find love after her death, with the caveat: ‘Don’t be taken for a ride, don’t marry a bimbo’. 

Deborah James (left) is pictured on her July 2008 wedding day to banker Sebastien Bowen

The pair, who have been married since July 2008, and share son Hugo, 14, and daughter, Eloise, 12, and were set to split in 2016 before rekindling their romance shortly before Deborah's diagnosis of bowel cancer. The

They are pictured on their anniversary in 2009

The pair, who have been married since July 2008, and share son Hugo, 14, and daughter, Eloise, 12, and were set to split in 2016 before rekindling their romance shortly before Deborah’s diagnosis of bowel cancer.  They are pictured on their anniversary in 2009

Before her diagnosis, Deborah was an ambitious deputy head teacher who’d been brought in to turn around a failing comprehensive in Surrey. 

It meant she and Sebastien, were always stressed and barely saw each other. ‘It was a classic case of our marriage coming last,’ she told the Daily Mail in 2020.

Sebastien moved out in 2015 and they embarked on an initially ‘acrimonious’ divorce, both hiring lawyers and starting to see other people. Deborah even went on some ‘hideous’ Tinder dates.

They’d already had the decree nisi when they agreed to counselling, not with any hope of a reconciliation, but simply to be on more cordial terms for the children.

Before her diagnosis, Deborah was an ambitious deputy head teacher who'd been brought in to turn around a failing comprehensive in Surrey. It meant she and Sebastien, were always stressed and barely saw each other. 'It was a classic case of our marriage coming last,' she told the Daily Mail in 2020. The couple are pictured in 2019

Before her diagnosis, Deborah was an ambitious deputy head teacher who’d been brought in to turn around a failing comprehensive in Surrey. It meant she and Sebastien, were always stressed and barely saw each other. ‘It was a classic case of our marriage coming last,’ she told the Daily Mail in 2020. The couple are pictured in 2019

Writing on his 40th birthday in 2019, Deborah shared this sweet picture and wrote: 'Happy 40th to this brilliant man. So proud of you. Thanks for being my rock and my blanket. For being there in sickness, in health, in the fun times and the bad times. We love you'

Writing on his 40th birthday in 2019, Deborah shared this sweet picture and wrote: ‘Happy 40th to this brilliant man. So proud of you. Thanks for being my rock and my blanket. For being there in sickness, in health, in the fun times and the bad times. We love you’

Then, to Deborah’s astonishment, the pair began having drinks, then dinner, after the sessions.

In November 2016, they made ‘a big step’ and got back together, only for Deborah to receive her shock diagnosis soon after.

‘Some days I crave the attention, just wanting to feel desired,’ she told the Daily Mail.

‘Other days, my husband can’t sneeze near me without getting his head bitten off. Understandably navigating that — for both of us — is hard.’

However, she says, ‘One of the good things about cancer is it makes you reassess your relationship. It’s crunch time. You think: “Do I really want to be with this person?” And if you don’t, then it’s ‘Bye!’ as life really is short.

Bowel babe' has urged her City banker beau to find love after her death, with the caveat: 'Don't be taken for a ride, don't marry a bimbo'. They are pictured dancing on their anniversary in the south of France

Bowel babe’ has urged her City banker beau to find love after her death, with the caveat: ‘Don’t be taken for a ride, don’t marry a bimbo’. They are pictured dancing on their anniversary in the south of France

Sebastien moved out in 2015 and they embarked on an initially 'acrimonious' divorce, both hiring lawyers and starting to see other people. Deborah even went on some 'hideous' Tinder dates, but later rekindled their romance

Sebastien moved out in 2015 and they embarked on an initially ‘acrimonious’ divorce, both hiring lawyers and starting to see other people. Deborah even went on some ‘hideous’ Tinder dates, but later rekindled their romance

‘But cancer can also make you realise how special your connection is, and that’s where we are: in a good place.’

Sebastien will now face raising their two children alone, while balancing his career as a banker.  

The University of Edinburgh graduate works for Pomona Capital, a Mayfair-based private equity firm and previously was a director at MetLife Investments.

In August, Deborah shared a sweet video of the pair dancing together in the South of France with a sweet caption thanking her husband for ‘holding her hand in the darkness and dancing her back into the light’.

In November 2016, they made 'a big step' and got back together, only for Deborah to receive her shock diagnosis soon after. They are pictured at a festival

In November 2016, they made ‘a big step’ and got back together, only for Deborah to receive her shock diagnosis soon after. They are pictured at a festival 

Sebastien will now face raising their two children alone, while balancing his career as a banker. The University of Edinburgh graduate works for Pomona Capital, a Mayfair-based private equity firm and previously was a director at MetLife Investments. They are pictured on holiday

Sebastien will now face raising their two children alone, while balancing his career as a banker. The University of Edinburgh graduate works for Pomona Capital, a Mayfair-based private equity firm and previously was a director at MetLife Investments. They are pictured on holiday

She wrote:  ’13 Years of marriage. My Rock. 

‘It was our wedding anniversary earlier this week. Some days the weight of what that means in an uncertain future can be too much.

‘Then it’s the closing of new day. A new day you are grateful to see. A new day you didn’t think you’d feel well in. And you dance. As your lids laugh and film. The sun sets, and you realise how wonderful it is to reach another milestone (and you park the sadness). 

‘And you smile. And you are at one in the moment only. Because for any of us that’s all we ever have anyway. And you give thanks to have people in your life that are the very back bone you remain upright on.

‘Sebastien – Thank you for holding my hand in the darkness and dancing me back into the light. I love you. Always’.

Sebastien, who attended the £13,788-a-term St Paul's School in west London has an impressive career with 20 years of primary and secondary fund investing experience.

Sebastien, who attended the £13,788-a-term St Paul’s School in west London has an impressive career with 20 years of primary and secondary fund investing experience.

The couple often celebrate their anniversary and take moments to be romantic (pictured in the south of France)

The couple often celebrate their anniversary and take moments to be romantic (pictured in the south of France)

 The couple often celebrate their anniversary and take moments to be romantic. 

In 2019, Deborah shared a sweet picture of the pair kissing at a London bar writing: ’11 years ago today we “officially” got married. 

‘We then had our wedding a few weeks later in France so we normally celebrate then and @sebastienbowen always remembers the correct date (it’s the 26th!!)- but any excuse for a nice meal and a cheeky snog?! 

‘I don’t do cheesy declarations very well – but I love this man very much so. Thanks for being my rock.’

She often posts sweet pictures and tributes to her husband on social media, on his 40th birthday in 2019 she wrote: ‘Happy 40th to this brilliant man. So proud of you. Thanks for being my rock and my blanket. For being there in sickness, in health, in the fun times and the bad times. We love you” 

On another occasion she shared a picture of the pair kissing in Kew Gardens with the caption: ’12 years ago I said yes in this same spot’.

On another occasion she shared a picture of the pair kissing in Kew Gardens with the caption: '12 years ago I said yes in this same spot'.

On another occasion she shared a picture of the pair kissing in Kew Gardens with the caption: ’12 years ago I said yes in this same spot’. 

Sebastien, who attended the £13,788-a-term St Paul’s School in west London has an impressive career with  20 years of primary and secondary fund investing experience.

Deborah says 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.

And 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.

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 mother-of two 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 final newspaper interview she said last night: ‘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’.

It came as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge paid tribute to the cancer-stricken BBC podcaster, declaring that she has ‘captured the heart of the nation’, after her fundraiser passed £3.3million today and is rising at a rate of £1million every 24 hours.

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Read more at DailyMail.co.uk