Rest in Peace Dame Deborah. Even though we knew she was having end of life care, it still came as a shock yesterday when we heard the news that she had died. The BowelBabe had announced her imminent death at the end of May, but since then I have seen so many updates on this brave campaigner, ranging from the delightful news that she was made a Dame, in a real hurry, to the heartbreaking Father’s Day photograph of her Dad brushing her hair as she was too weak to do it for herself. She was an incredible lady and there was so much that I admired about her response to her terminal cancer diagnosis.
I love how she turned devastating personal news into an opportunity to raise awareness of a taboo cancer and to raise over £7million. I only became aware of her once she made the news that she was receiving end of life care, so I did not hear any of her podcasts on her cancer journey, but I have researched her since then and have been impressed by the work that she has tirelessly done for the cause so dear to her heart.
I like to think that if I had a terminal cancer diagnosis, that I would be strong enough to react like she did. I loved all the clips of her dancing during chemotherapy that were played again yesterday – what a joyous thing to do! I like to think that I too would make close friends with my fellow cancer sufferers, she seemed to make Chemo into a sociable experience and they all supported each other through the treatment. I like to think that in her shoes, I too would use this blog to write about my cancer journey as I I am not afraid to tackle the taboo subjects either and I think , like Dame Deborah, I also like to shock a little bit in the blunt tone that I use sometimes. I would like to think that I too would be brave enough to try every treatment that was available to give me more time with my family, even though I was exhausted and weak from the disease.
But where I think I would struggle, is in the sure knowledge that I would be leaving Joshua behind and that I would not see him grow up and worrying about how he would be cared for in my absence. I really felt for her children yesterday as she was their Mum and yet in opening up her life to the world, everyone was sharing a piece of her. That must have been so tough, to lose their Mum and to hear all those tributes from people who did not really know and love her. But hopefully in time, those tributes will bring them real comfort. I loved the film clip of Dame Deborah dancing with her daughter, but I imagine that will be too painful to watch now. She was all over the television yesterday, but they will need to grieve quietly and in their own way. There is a definite downside to the public image that she had created, but hopefully the family’s need for privacy now will be respected.
So Dame Deborah, you were an amazing lady and you did so much good for the bowel cancer cause in your unflinching advice to ‘check your poo’. You will undoubtedly have saved lives due to your brave sharing the most difficult moments of your life, so I am full of admiration for you. Now your work is done, so rest in peace xx