The foundation established by activist Dame Deborah James, who passed away last year, has raised $11.3 million for cancer research. Bowelbabe was founded in May 2022, a month before her death, with an initial fundraising goal of £250,000 for Cancer Research UK.
In less than a week, £3.5 million was raised, with the then-Duke and Duchess of Cambridge among the donors. According to Cancer Research UK, the monies would be allocated to new illness research projects.
In 2016, at the age of 35, Dame Deborah was diagnosed with colon cancer and became a vocal advocate for screening for the dangerous disease. The host of the BBC podcast You, Me and the Big C was praised for her straightforward approach to discussing cancer, having discussed her treatment and daily life experiences since her diagnosis.
Dame Deborah, a former assistant principal, began a cancer blog before writing for the Sun and becoming a BBC broadcaster. She revealed she would be receiving end-of-life care at her parents' home in Surrey at the time the fund was established. The 40-year-old mother of two, who was appointed a Dame for her fundraising efforts by the then Duke of Cambridge, passed away in June of last year.
According to Cancer Research UK, the fund will continue to raise funds. A variety of research focused on the prevention and treatment of colon cancer would receive initial funding.
One study will examine the foundations for a novel precision treatment that could prevent the spread of colon cancer. Director of the Centre for Evolution and Cancer at the Institute of Cancer Research in London, Professor Trevor Graham, will lead the initiative. In a separate study, a team of eminent experts will investigate bacteria that may cause colon cancer.
The team has already identified a type of bacterium that increases the risk of bowel cancer in some individuals under the age of 50 and is investigating if it is possible to target these bacteria to lessen the risk of bowel cancer. A further initiative, coordinated by Dr. Oleg Blyuss of Queen Mary University of London, will investigate the use of artificial intelligence and blood testing to detect the first cancer symptoms.
At the Royal Marsden cancer hospital in London, a cutting-edge Infrared X-ray system will provide enhanced imaging resolution, allowing for the treatment of more patients. The initiatives launched on Wednesday, totaling approximately £4 million, represent the first wave of funding, with additional projects to be announced later this year. Sebastien Bowen, the husband of Dame Deborah, stated that he was "very proud and humbled" to continue his wife's work.
"As a family, we are blown away by the amount of support the fund has gotten, and raising £11.3 million is simply wonderful," he said.
Michelle Mitchell, chief executive officer of Cancer Research UK, described Dame Deborah as a "force of nature" and stated that the "overwhelming support the fund has received" is evidence of how many lives she has affected. She added that Deborah's spirit of rebellious hope will fuel the fund.