Cheltenham Science Festival is paying tribute to 2022 guest curator Deborah James, who is known online as Bowelbabe, as she receives hospice care at home for terminal bowel cancer.
James was diagnosed in 2016 and has spent the last five years campaigning and raising vital charitable funds to help treat and prevent cancer.
She began co-hosting the podcast You, Me and the Big C in 2018 – which has been praised for its frank conversations about cancer – as well as publishing her book F*** You Cancer: How to face the big C, live your life and still be yourself.
On top of guest curating the 2022 Cheltenham Science Festival programme, James was due to speak at Cheltenham Town Hall on Saturday 11 June 2022 alongside professor of experimental oncology, Sarah Blagden, and science director at the Science Museum, Roger Highfield, to discuss whether we can cure cancer in our lifetime.
In a post on her official Instagram page, James wrote ‘the message I never wanted to write’ on Monday 9 May 2022, announcing that her active care had ceased and she had moved to receiving hospice care at home, surrounded by her family.
James asked her followers to donate the cost of a drink to the newly-established Bowelbabe Fund to see her out of this world and help ‘to give more Deborahs more time’.
In a statement on its social media channels, Cheltenham Festivals said: ‘Our thoughts are with #CheltSciFest guest curator Deborah James.
‘Deborah’s ‘rebellious hope’ is an inspiration to those living with and impacted by cancer. We hope that with Deborah’s curatorship, Cheltenham Science Festival can help continue her work and share the different perspectives on the approach to cancer.
‘Deborah has launched the Bowelbabe Fund for Cancer Research UK to continue to raise awareness and money to fund clinical trials and research into personalised medicine for cancer patients.
‘In her own words, if you’ve ever read a column, followed her Instagram, listened to the podcast or saw her dressed as a poo for no reason, please donate to the fund.’