Dame Deborah, known by her social media handle Bowelbabe and as a presenter of the You, Me And The Big C podcast, died last June at the age of 40, five years after being diagnosed with bowel cancer.
Her Bowelbabe Fund for Cancer Research UK has raised more than £7.5 million through its online appeal and her posthumously published book How To Live When You Could Be Dead has continued to bring in funds from sales.
A BBC Sounds live special, You, Me And The Big C: Putting The Can In Cancer, was recorded on Sunday to pay tribute to the late campaigner.
Appearing on the show, her brother, Benjamin James, said that she had the ‘vision of wanting to give more people more time, through doing something good and using her platform to raise as much money, as much engagement, as much awareness, as she could’.
He shared: ‘We were all focused on that first £1 million that was publicised but I remember Debs turning around and saying, “Now [there] is almost 330,000 individual donations.”
‘I think her view is all about the numbers [engaged] and she was reading the comments from so and so whether it’s £1 or £100,000, she was caring about the number of people that she was touching.
‘And I think she kind of just brought home that it was about the engagement, not kind of, you know, the exact number.’
He added that his sister ‘never planned to go quietly’ and had a ‘relentless acceptance of talking about things so frankly’.
‘I think she just did what she wanted,’ he said. ‘She didn’t really listen to anyone if she got told not to and just went about things her own way.’
Dame Deborah’s sister, Sarah Wieczorek, also spoke about the late campaigner during the show, saying she could ‘never settle’ and would do things to the ‘best’ of her ability.
Saying that her sister was ‘the same as she’s always been’ during her cancer battle and public fundraising efforts, she added: ‘I don’t think the cancer changed her actually, either. So that was the nice thing. It was her personality [in her public work].’
Sarah said she would particularly remember her sister’s ‘spontaneity’ and her laugh.
Her brother added: ‘I think it’s not, like, specific images, kind of just the annoying – but very caring – things [she did]. Make sure that you kind of live everything really well.’
Both Dame Deborah and fellow podcaster Rachael Bland’s lives were celebrated during the live event at the Radio Theatre in London by their family, friends and cancer community as the show marked five years of broadcasting.
The series, which launched in March 2018, has won acclaim for its candid discussions about the practicalities of living with cancer, from hair loss to dealing with finances.
The one-off episode, recorded in front of a live audience, was presented by Lauren Mahon and Ms Bland’s widower Steve, who announced in December that he was expecting twins with his new wife.
Ms Bland died in 2018 at the age of 40 after being treated for breast cancer.
You, Me And The Big C: Putting The Can In Cancer is available on BBC Sounds.
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