Today is the funeral of Deborah James, who passed away on July 27th aged just 37. My thoughts today are very much with her family and friends. I know an awful lot of effort has been put into making today a very special send off, and celebration of her life.
I came into contact with Debs on social media in 2015 around the time that I published my last book, Lives & Times, which she kindly bought, and we stayed in regular contact. She was one of the first people to agree to be in this new fundraising book I am putting together for the Beating Bowel Cancer charity. We met at the beginning of May at the Sixfields Leisure Park in Northampton. At that time Debs was still very positive, and determined to do everything she could to stay healthy, and live as long as possible in spite of an awful prognosis. She told me that when she was younger, she said she would live to be 100, and with her lovely infectious laugh she then said that it was still possible. In fact Deb's laugh was constant throughout, even during the bits where we chatted about the most difficult subjects relating to her illness. Although I only got to meet her once, that experience definitely left a mark on me, and I'm sorry that I didn't get the opportunity to know her a little better and see her again. She wrote a wonderful blog, My Joyful Gut!, which is well worth a read. She had set up her own business, which was raising awareness about cancer at the workplace, supporting businesses, cancer patients and their families affected by cancer. She was a quite special person, who will be missed by so many people.
Debs and I agreed that the chapter on her in the book should be written as of that moment in time of our meeting. I wanted her to see the chapter as it would appear in the finished book. I wrote it up and sent it to Debs, who thankfully was very pleased with it. I will not change it, apart from a few lines of explanation that I've added to the start of it.
Bowel cancer is the most terrible disease. The second highest cancer killer in the UK, claiming 16,000 lives each year, and yet if detected early it can be successfully treated in over 90% of cases. So much more needs to be done in raising awareness about bowel cancer to reduce the numbers losing their lives, and the sadness and devastation caused to the families left behind. My Mum lost her 4 year battle with bowel cancer in August 2016, and all proceeds from sales on the new book will be donated to the Beating Bowel Cancer charity.