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'I kissed her on the head then she slipped away': Deborah James' husband relives podcaster's last moments
6 August 2022, 08:35 | Updated: 7 August 2022, 07:13
The husband of the late Bowelbabe podcaster Dame Deborah James has spoken of their final moments together – and how he is still in "total awe" of what she achieved.
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Sebastien Bowen described how he kissed her on her head and told her how much he loved her before she "slipped away".
Dame Deborah captured the hearts of millions as she spent her final years raising awareness about bowel cancer, which she was diagnosed with in 2016.
The former deputy headteacher co-hosted the popular podcast You, Me and the Big C, which took a frank and light-hearted look at cancer diagnoses.
She died in June aged 40, leaving a legacy of heightened awareness about the disease, a litany of advice about how to check for symptoms and more than £7m for Cancer Research UK.
Sebastien, 42, told The Sun of their heart-rending final moments.
"I kissed her on the head. I told her how much I loved her, that I would look after the kids and the last thing I said to her was that I was so proud of her. Then she slipped away," he said.
"She had an incredibly peaceful death, if there was a way to die well, then she managed it.
"At the very end, it was quite spiritual."
The couple, who were married for 14 years, have two children, Hugo and Elise.
Dame Deborah, who was renowned for her humour and optimism even in the face of her condition, gained more than 900,000 followers on social media.
She was given a damehood for her work by Prince William, who visited her family home in Woking to confer it.
Sebastien said: "I'm in total awe of Debs, I'm in awe of what she did and how she went about it."
He added: "It's her magic, her way of finding joy in every moment - even in the darkest of times. That's what I'll miss most, it's quite a rare thing.
"It was at the very core of what made her unique."
Dame Deborah was diagnosed days before Christmas in 2016 after suffering symptoms associated with bowel cancer, such as losing weight and passing blood on the toilet.
It was first thought she might have had irritable bowel syndrome and her symptoms were put down to stress.
But after believing it was something worse she got a diagnosis from a private specialist.
Against the odds, she would survive more than five years from her diagnosis.
Besides co-hosting her podcast, she launched the In The Style clothing line that sends all its profits to the Bowelbabe Fund.
She had stopped active treatment and moved to hospice-at-home care by May after doctors said they had done all they could.
Dame Deborah then smashed her original goal of raising £250,000 for Cancer Research, raising millions within four days of setting it up on JustGiving.
A book called How To Live When You Could Be Dead, which is about having a positive mindset when faced with big challenges, was set to be published this month, with royalties going to the BowelBabe Fund.