Boris Johnson has hailed Dame Deborah James as an “inspiration” and said that because of her campaigning work “many, many lives will be saved”.
The podcaster, who was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2016, died on Tuesday after spending her final weeks receiving end-of-life care at home with her husband, Sebastien, and their two children.
The Prime Minister was among those paying tribute, and wrote on Twitter: “I’m terribly saddened to hear that Dame Deborah James has died. What an inspiration she was to so many.
“The awareness she brought to bowel cancer and the research her campaigning has funded will be her enduring legacy.
“Because of her, many many lives will be saved.”
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said news of her death was “deeply sad”.
He added: “Dame Deborah James’ charity work was truly inspirational — even in the most challenging moments, she continued to raise awareness about bowel cancer and impacted so many people’s lives.
“Our thoughts are with her family and friends at this difficult time.”
In her final weeks, Dame Deborah – a presenter of the BBC podcast You, Me And The Big C – raised millions of pounds for research and was made a dame for her “tireless” work improving awareness of the disease.
She revealed in early May that she had stopped active treatment and was receiving end-of-life care at her parents’ home in Woking.
A statement posted by her family on Instagram said: “We are deeply saddened to announce the death of Dame Deborah James; the most amazing wife, daughter, sister, mummy. Deborah passed away peacefully today, surrounded by her family.
“Deborah, who many of you will know as Bowelbabe, was an inspiration and we are incredibly proud of her and her work and commitment to charitable campaigning, fundraising and her endless efforts to raise awareness of cancer that touched so many lives. Deborah shared her experience with the world to raise awareness, break down barriers, challenge taboos and change the conversation around cancer. Even in her most challenging moments, her determination to raise money and awareness was inspiring.
“We thank you for giving us time in private as a family, and we look forward to continuing Deborah’s legacy long into the future through the @bowelbabefund. Thank you for playing your part in her journey, you are all incredible.
“And a few final things from Deborah…’find a life worth enjoying; take risks; love deeply; have no regrets; and always, always have rebellious hope. And finally, check your poo – it could just save your life.’”
Her mother Heather, whose handle on Instagram is Bowelgran, shared a series of photos of Dame Deborah and wrote: “My heart is broken. Love you forever.”
Good Morning Britain host Charlotte Hawkins, BBC radio presenter Chris Stark and TV host Gaby Roslin were also among those paying tribute.
Stark tweeted: “Dame Deborah James.
“You inspired so many and did everything to the fullest. No one can do more than that. I hope we can have a gin wherever this all leads.
“Thinking of your family and friends and everyone that is going through similar. Rest in Peace Debs x”
The former deputy headteacher was…