‘Without her, I don’t think I’d be here’: Cancer survivors pay tribute to Dame Deborah James

·2 min read
'Without her, I don't think I'd be here today': Cancer survivors pay tribute to Dame Deborah James - Paul Grover /Paul Grover for the Telegraph
'Without her, I don't think I'd be here today': Cancer survivors pay tribute to Dame Deborah James - Paul Grover /Paul Grover for the Telegraph

Dame Deborah James leaves a "tremendous legacy," Genevieve Edwards, chief executive of Bowel Cancer UK, has said.

Ms Edwards told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "She never stopped raising awareness. Bowel cancer is something people find difficult to talk about often and don't really ... they find it a little bit embarrassing.

"She's stripped all of that away and shone a powerful light on it."

Teresa Whitfield, who was diagnosed with stage 3 bowel cancer after seeing Dame Deborah talking about symptoms on TV, told the programme that Dame Deborah saved her life.

Asked what she would say to Dame Deborah's family, Ms Whitfield, now cancer free, said: "Thank you. Without her, I don't think I would be here today. Her campaigning is critical and we, as bowel cancer patients, as bowel cancer survivors, and as anybody who thinks they might have bowel cancer, we have to carry on with the legacy that she has.

"We have to carry on campaigning to raise awareness."

'Her legacy is the millions of lives she will save'

Sajid Javid, the Health Secretary, said Dame Deborah's legacy would be the "many, probably millions, of lives that she will save" through her campaigning work on bowel cancer awareness.

Speaking during a visit to Great Ormond Street Hospital to announce his plan for digital health and social care, Mr Javid said: "I was very saddened, I think like the whole nation, about the news about Dame Deborah. My thoughts are immediately with her family and friends.

"But she has been an inspiration to the entire country. I think everyone has heard of her because of her fantastic work to raise awareness of what she called the C-word.

"I think her legacy will be the many, probably millions, of lives that she will save."

'Without her, I don't think I'd be here today': Cancer survivors pay tribute to Dame Deborah James - Yui Mok /PA
'Without her, I don't think I'd be here today': Cancer survivors pay tribute to Dame Deborah James - Yui Mok /PA

The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity also paid tribute to Dame Deborah in a post on their website, saying: "Deborah was an absolute inspiration to so many people with cancer, and a passionate supporter of The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity. We are hugely grateful for her support."

They added: "Behind the scenes, Deborah would take the time to chat to other patients on social media and offer her advice and support.

"For someone who loved to get dressed up and speak publicly, much of what Deborah did for the cancer community was actually quiet, understated, and from the chemo chair or in the middle of the night.

"She will be hugely missed by everyone in The Royal Marsden."

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