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Dame Deborah James' Bowelbabe fund raises £11.3m

The Bowelbabe cancer research fund has raised over £11m

The fund set up by Dame Deborah James has raised over £11 million and the money is now being distributed to new projects looking to fight bowel cancer.

The Bowelbabe cancer research fund was set up by Dame Deborah James last May and has now raised £11.3 million in donations.

Cancer Research UK said the funds are being given to new projects aimed at advancing research into the disease.

Dame Deborah sets up Bowelbabe fund

Dame Deborah was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2016 at the age of 35 and became an outspoken campaigner, encouraging people to check for signs of the deadly disease.

She launched the Bowelbabe fund last May to raise money for research into personalised medicine for cancer patients. It passed £1 million in less than 24 hours.

At the same time, she announced she was receiving end-of-life care and would be looked after at her parents’ home in Surrey.

The mother-of-two, who was made a Dame by the then Duke of Cambridge for her fundraising efforts, died last June aged 40.

Projects receiving funding announced

On Wednesday, Cancer Research UK announced the initial research projects that will receive Bowelbabe funding.

One study will look at laying the foundations for new precision treatment that could stop bowel cancer spread. It will be led by Professor Trevor Graham, director of the Centre for Evolution and Cancer at the Institute of Cancer Research, London.

Another project, involving a team of leading scientists, will look at targeting microbes that might cause bowel cancer.

This team has already discovered a type of bacteria that increases the risk of bowel cancer in some people under 50 and is exploring whether it might be possible to target these bacteria to reduce bowel cancer risk.

A further project, led by Dr Oleg Blyuss from Queen Mary University of London, will look at using artificial intelligence and blood tests to detect the earliest signs of cancer.

At the Royal Marsden cancer hospital in London, an advanced IR X-ray machine will also offer better imaging resolution that will allow more patients to be treated.

The projects announced on Wednesday, collectively totalling around £4 million, are the first round of funding, with more projects due to be confirmed later this year.

“As a family, we’ve been overwhelmed"

Dame Deborah’s husband, Sebastien Bowen, said: “I’m immensely proud and humbled to continue the work that Deborah started.

“As a family, we’ve been overwhelmed by all the support the fund has received, and to raise £11.3 million is just incredible.

“We’ve taken some time to select the first round of funded projects, and are pleased to announce them today.

“There is some fantastic, cutting-edge bowel cancer research and brilliant awareness activity taking place, and we know that Deborah would be behind this every step of the way.”

The fund will continue to raise as much money as possible, Cancer Research UK said.

The life and work of Dame Deborah James

Pictured here in 2020, Deborah James was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2016 at the age of 35. After the diagnosis she began detailing her cancer and treatment in a newspaper column.

Deborah James became the much-loved presenter of the podcast You, Me And The Big C in 2018 alongside fellow cancer patients Lauren Mahon and Rachael Bland.

She's become a campaigner, raising awareness of cancer and raising money too. In 2019 she ran the Vitiality London 10000 in her underwear to promote body confidence.

In May 2022 she announced she was receiving hospice at home care saying "We have tried everything, but my body simply isn't playing ball."

The cancer campaigner was honoured with a damehood in May 2022 after announcing she had moved to hospice-at-home care.

The 40-year-old podcast host had at that point raised over £4million after setting up a fund to raise money for clinical trials, research, and raising awareness of bowel cancer.

On the 28th June 2022 it was announced that Dame Deborah had sadly passed away at the age of 40, after losing her battle with terminal bowel cancer. Her campaigning work raised over £7 million for her Bowelbabe Fund for Cancer Research UK.

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