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The Sun on Sunday challenges you to strap on your running shoes and run in honor of Dame Deborah James.

THE Sun on Sunday challenges you to lace up your slippers in honor of Dame Deborah James.

The 40-year-old Sun writer passed away on Tuesday, five years and seven months after being diagnosed with stage 4 bowel cancer.

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In her final weeks, Dame Debs launched her BowelBabe Fund, raising money for cancer research to save other people’s lives.

He smashed his £250,000 goal in a matter of days, raising a staggering £6.8 million before his death.

Now we’re asking you to help us make Debs’ dream of a £10m fund a reality.

The mother-of-two loved to run, often jogging to and from her appointments at The Royal Marsden.

She ran with her children, Eloise, 12, and Hugo, 14, completing marathons and participating in Race For Life events.

So, in his memory, we want you to challenge yourself, your kids, friends, and family to run or walk any distance, from 1km to as far as you can handle, and donate what you can to his cause.

‘I owe him my life’

The mother of two children, Donia Youssef, participates. Last summer, this 44-year-old from Grays, Essex, saw blood in her poo and, due to Deborah’s campaign, had an immediate check-up, leading to an early diagnosis and surgery to remove a tumor in stage 1.

She said: “I owe my life to Deborah. If she hadn’t seen the signs so soon, the story would have been very different.

“This is a fantastic idea to remember it. My daughters are now 17 years old, and I want them to know why Mom is still here and to spread the word.”

In April 2017, Donia was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer and was treated at The Royal Marsden, in Fulham, south-west London, the same hospital that treated Debs.

She said: “I started running and walking, to challenge myself but also to lose some of the weight I had gained from my treatment.

“I did a number of 10k and 5k runs as well as charity walks organized by The Royal Marsden.

“On those walks and runs, I remember seeing Deborah. She was a joyous ball of energy.”

Dame Debs shared her journey in her online Sun column, Things Cancer Made Me Say.

In February 2020, just before the first lockdown, she revealed that running was her way of proving to herself that she was still alive.

Debs wrote: “My scans showed no evidence of any active disease. I convinced myself that my new aches and pains were new tumors. But I decided to run to the hospital to get my results, to try to tell myself that I might be wrong.

“Racing Royal Marsden has become one of my survival mechanisms. If I can run 8 km, I can’t be dying.”

Athletic trainer Gemma Hillier Walker was diagnosed with stage 3 Burkitt’s lymphoma, a rare cancer, in 2012. Running helped her recover.

The former British athlete and founder of Move, which helps people with cancer exercise, says running was her lifeline during chemotherapy.

She said: “Running helped me focus on what I could control instead of focusing on things that were out of my control.”

Learn more at 5kyourway.org.

Deborah’s fund, which currently stands at just over £7.2m, will be split between Cancer Research UK, Bowel Cancer UK and The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity.

Comedian Sarah Mills, 32, from Stepney, East London, will walk to raise funds.

He was diagnosed with stage 3C bowel cancer in 2018 after seeing blood in his poop.

In March 2018, he had an eight-inch tumor removed and underwent six months of chemotherapy.

Throughout her treatment, she was inspired by Debs’ incredible spirit.

Sarah said: “Without her, I would have lost the will to carry on. Her bravery also partially inspired me to switch careers to doing stand-up comedy.”

If you feel like getting involved but fear you won’t be up to the challenge, Deborah has some sage advice.

She said: “Sometimes you just need someone to talk you into doing something. And sometimes you end up doing some brilliant things.”

Michelle Mitchell, CEO of Cancer Research UK, said: “We are honored and grateful to have had Deborah’s support.

“She loved being active and was a proud and passionate ambassador for Race For Life.”

Comedian Sarah Mills, 32, from East London, will walk to raise money.  She was diagnosed with stage 3C bowel cancer in 2018 after seeing blood in her poop.

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Athletic trainer Gemma Hillier Walker was diagnosed with stage 3 Burkitt's lymphoma, a rare cancer, in 2012. Running helped her recover

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WHAT YOU CAN DO

  • CHALLENGE yourself to complete a sponsored run or walk. From fun runs in the park to full marathons, nothing is too big or too small.
  • TO GIVE the money you raise to Deborah’s BowelBabe Fund. It’s on intestinalbabe.org
  • TELL us about it! Email news of your efforts to [email protected]

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