WITH her signature grace and inspirational stoicism, Deborah James revealed that her end is now near.
“I am not brave,” she wrote. “I am not dignified going towards my death. I am simply a scared girl who is doing something she has no choice in but I know I am grateful for the life that I have had.”
I don’t want to disagree with this wonderful woman, but trust me, Deborah, you are brave and dignified.
From the top of your head to the tip of your toes, you have shown a strength and inner steel that is astonishing.
You have been so very brave in documenting your bowel cancer journey so frankly in your Sun column and podcast You, Me And The Big C.
‘Warmth and courage’
In her final podcast episode she thought only of others, signing off by urging listeners to “check your poo”.
Deborah has been a beacon of light for her social media followers, proving that even in the throes of cancer treatment it’s still possible to have fun — dancing to Abba while receiving chemo and looking positively radiant while doing so.
It has since raised almost £6million. Deborah has truly touched the heart of a nation.
Actually, that should be Dame Deborah, because on Thursday the Queen bestowed her with the ultimate honour, and the very next day Prince William presented her with the Damehood at her home.
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While the Prime Minister praised her “warmth and courage.”
There was a passage in her final column that really touched me.
She wrote: “I do not want to die. I can’t get my head around the idea that I will not see my kids’ weddings or see them grow up — that I will no longer be a part of life that I love so much.”
How I know that feeling. I had brain surgery for a life-threatening aneurysm in 2006.
It wasn’t dying that scared me, although doctors admitted there was a 30 per cent chance I wouldn’t make it.
But the prospect of not seeing my kids grow up. Not being there for their weddings, and not meeting my grandchildren.
And that is what Deborah is facing too and my heart goes out to her.
I will never, ever take for granted how lucky I was to survive that operation.
And that experience gifted me a newfound appreciation of being alive.
That is something that Deborah’s story has hammered home to all of us.
She says that since having cancer she has done things she never thought she could, or would, do in her life.
In other words, in facing the reality of her own death, she also discovered how to live as well.
Deborah’s story is a heartbreaking and poignant reminder of what matters in life.
Accepting that life must go on, Deborah has given her husband Sebastien Bowen, who she married in 2008, her blessing to remarry after her death.
Her kindness shines
She said: “I have given him strict instructions: I want him to move on.
“He’s a handsome man. I’m like, ‘Don’t be taken for a ride, don’t marry a bimbo, find someone else who can make you laugh like we did’.”
The kindness shines out of her.
Cancer is a terrible illness.
Often it just cannot be treated successfully, so it’s wrong to refer to it as a fight or a battle, as if sheer strength or willpower alone could cure it.
And Deborah is acknowledging something we all have to accept one day, which is that nobody lives forever.
It’s incredibly hard to come to terms with. But it’s when we do that life really starts to gain meaning.
They say you only live once.
But, if you live it right, once is probably enough.
Wagatha waste of time and money
AHEAD of the “Wagatha Christie” trial, judges pleaded with the main players to drop the case.
Describing the extraordinary cost of the case as “grotesque”, Master Roger Eastman insisted it was in “everyone’s best interest” to settle the case.
But that’s not quite true, is it?
But their lawyers certainly do.
It’s a sizeable pay day with costs expected to hit at least £2million – with some predicting they could be double that.
And the exposure will surely boost their careers.
Ever since Coleen’s infamous tweet accusing Vardy of leaking fake stories, the British public have hung on every second of this spectacle.
Now, with Rebekah suing her fellow wag for libel, fans have been gifted with the trial of all trials.
We’ve had revelations about “chipolata” penises, memories of Gemma Collins “face planting” into ice and laugh out loud moments, such as Vardy asking: “Who is Davy Jones?”
But in reality this trial isn’t that funny.
In fact, it’s rather sad.
While their lawyers might bask in the attention, both women have seemed rather downtrodden, with Vardy in tears during her testimony.
I am a football wife, but my experience of “wagdom” is fairly limited. But I do remember one of my players’ wives saying to me: “You have brains . . . all I have is my looks”.
It’s an insult for sure, but I don’t think she meant it and my ego wasn’t fragile enough to lose sleep over it.
Sometimes it’s best to let things go – a lesson Rebekah and Coleen would be wise to learn.
NO GAIN IN SPAIN
I AM all for anything that supports women, but the news that Spanish women who suffer from severe period pains may be able to take up to three days leave per month gives me some pause.
The draft bill, due to be presented by Spain’s government next week, could make the nation the first European country to offer so-called “menstrual leave”, which would guarantee women time off during their periods.
Like most women, I have had painful cramps, for 35 years. But I have rarely taken a day off work because of them and I cannot support this.
Not only does it sound like it will be open to exploitation and abuse, it will likely result in fewer women being considered for many positions because of the possibility they will take time off each month.
Which, honestly, is the absolute last thing that we need.
Don't stress it, Kim
IT’S somewhat hard to take seriously Kim Kardashian’s admission to having “panic attacks” about “finding her fashion identity” after splitting with Kanye West, who styled her for years.
The 41-year-old revealed she recently went to her first event in ages without being dressed by her ex.
Charmingly, Kanye responded by telling her that her career was over, comparing the dress she was wearing to one worn by cartoon character Marge Simpson.
But on the other hand, his comments, and the way Kim said she felt, are a reminder of how some men like women to be so dependent on them they feel they cannot fend for themselves.
It’s obviously good they parted.
Although, then again, the very idea of having panic attacks over her “fashion identity” when Europe is at war is laughable.
As is taking fashion advice from a husband who only wears hoodies three sizes too big and looks like he got dressed in the dark.
SEXISM IS MEN SCARED
IT is exasperating to hear that for the chief executive of Aviva – a woman called Amanda Blanc – the “unacceptable behaviour” she faces from male peers is getting worse the more senior she becomes.
Having become the insurance giant’s first woman chief executive in July 2020, she says that last week she faced a barrage of sexist comments from shareholders.
One investor allegedly told her she was “not the man for the job”, while another reportedly questioned whether she should be “wearing trousers”.
All of which feels really rather old school and outdated, doesn’t it?
And yet, it seems it is still depressingly commonplace.
Blanc later wrote that after more than 30 years in financial services she was used to the “sexist and derogatory remarks” and, like many women in business, had picked up “misogynistic scars”.
All of which is a huge shame. Although, if she thinks that’s bad, I wonder how she would respond to being a female MP.
I am so sorry she has had this experience throughout her career.
I cannot help but ask the question – the answer to which demands more space than I have here – just why is it that men find successful women so threatening?
Showing his true Will
YOU’VE got to love it when royals go off-piste and show their human side.
Prince William did so on Thursday when he ignored the royal rulebook and gave an emotional fan a big hug during a visit to Scotland.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were at a Glasgow community project for vulnerable and disadvantaged people when William encountered the man, who shares his name.
The prince then took onlookers by surprise when he shared a sweet embrace with him.
It was such an amazingly human and lovely thing to do, which is what we always love to see more of from the Royal Family.
And I bet it made the man’s day.