Heather James Instagram
The mother of the late Dame Deborah James has revealed that the BBC Podcast host did not want to die in the days leading up to her death from bowel cancer on June 28.
On Tuesday, Heather James recalled a conversation with Deborah, who was 40 when she died, to the BBC in which her daughter told her she had no regrets about her life.
"I went, 'that's brilliant,'" Heather told the BBC. "You know, how many people can say that? But she did say 'I don't want to die,' and that's the hardest, saddest part."
"I think the hardest thing was knowing that she was going to die, and my heartache was as a mother, knowing I couldn't do anything about it," Heather added tragically.
Deborah, who hosted the podcast You, Me, and the Big C for the BBC, was first diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2016 and raised over $6 million for awareness toward the disease before she died.
"We were given three to five days, Deborah lived eight weeks," Heather told the BBC about James' final weeks on Tuesday. "That eight weeks was probably in one way the best eight weeks we've had together as a family, even though she died at the end of it. How can you not love what she did in that eight weeks?"
Heather James Instagram
In her final days, Deborah finished writing a posthumously published book, How to Live When You Could Be Dead, set to be released Aug. 18. She also received a private visit from Prince William in May in which he presented her with a damehood on behalf of Queen Elizabeth (the female equivalent of being knighted).
Around the time she announced she was entering hospice care, Deborah also gave an interview to the BBC, in which she said she was "mind blown" to have raised more than 1 million pounds (equivalent to $1,233,00 USD) in 24 hours for her Bowelbabe Fund.
"I said to her, 'I don't know what you're going to do when you go,' and she went, 'you will continue and you will enjoy life,'" Heather James told the BBC Tuesday. "And I went 'I don't know if I can,' and she went 'then you haven't done me justice.'"
"So, I think we all have to not just live life," Heather added. "Enjoy living life and live it to the best that we can. I think we owe that to Deborah."
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Heather told the BBC Tuesday that William, 40, "put us so much at ease" during his May visit to the James household.
"He was just like one of my son-in-laws," she said. "He just sat down with us and he was so lovely, I think he is a people's king."
The Duke of Cambridge offered "powerful advice" to James' two children about losing a parent, her husband Sebastien Bowen recently told The Times in the U.K.
"There was the time I opened the door to Prince William, who had come to give Deborah a damehood," Bowen recalled. "He felt like a friend but he was the future king. That was bizarre. He was so relaxed; he came and sat down in the garden and had champagne with the family."
"He's obviously been through similar grief with the loss of his mother, so he gave powerful advice to the children that will stay with them forever," Bowen added.
David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty; Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Deborah James; Prince William
Following Prince William's visit with James and her family, he also visited the Royal Marsden Hospital in London to meet with nurses and staff who helped care for James and said he "loved meeting her."
"She was fantastic — her legacy is massive," William told Lorraine Kimber, 59, a patient who is currently undergoing treatment for pancreatic cancer.
"She was incredible, incredible. She was surrounded by her family, we had a lovely afternoon," he said.
William, who said James was "on amazing form" when he saw James and her family, shared, "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."
"I love Deborah, she's fantastic. Her legacy is massive. I was very honored to be able to speak to her," he added. "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."