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BBC presenter Deborah James shares plan for final moments and ‘strict instructions’ left for husband


Former BBC presenter and podcast host Deborah James has recently announced she is receiving at home hospice care and it is time to say goodbye, after her five-year battle with bowel cancer. She has now spoken about her end-of-life plans and says she would like to pass listening to her family’s normal life and will not be spending her final days crying, WalesOnline reports.

The 40-year-old has given her husband strict instructions and has been writing letters to her children that they can open in the future. In an interview with The Times Deborah has spoken candidly about her end-of-life plans, her funeral, and how hard it has been telling her children Hugo, 14, and Eloise, 12, and how she wants “one last cuddle” from them.

She said: “It’s been hideous telling my children. We have had a string of emotional conversations that have escalated very quickly from supportive care to end-of-life care. My husband Sebastien has been incredible, he has dropped everything and is with me 24/7. My first thought was that I don’t want my children to see me like this. I didn’t think I would be able to speak to them without crying, but I’d love one last cuddle with them.”

Read more: Lorraine Kelly supports Deborah James after ITV co-star gives tragic cancer update

Deborah has also called the coronavirus pandemic a “massive blessing” as it meant she got to spend more time with her children and her family. She said: “I watched every moment of them growing up in our little bubble and that makes up for some of the years I will lose. I feel confident they are doing really well.”

Planning for the future as much as she can Deborah has also written her children letters and prepared presents for them, she said: “It’s hard to work out what to do: you don’t want to rip off the Band-Aid every birthday and ruin it for them. But at the same time, I want them to have letters at milestones and funny messages. Here’s my advice on your wedding day, what to do on a first date. I used to hate the idea of a memory box, but I’ve just ordered a blue and a pink one.”



Deborah has said it is time to say goodbye as she nears the end of her life
Deborah has said it is time to say goodbye as she nears the end of her life

“I know materialistic things don’t matter, but I want to buy Hugo a nice pen or wallet or cufflinks. I’m going to buy my daughter some Tiffany bracelets and earrings. They will have all the memories, but I want them to have a few presents in the future. I also want to write them postcards, but I have to be honest, I get really tired.”

She has also left “strict” instructions for her husband Sebastien, urging him to get married again and to find someone “who can make you laugh like we did.” With regards to her funeral, Deborah would like everyone to wear black and white and for a bench to be placed on the common opposite her home in London.

Deborah also admitted she is “petrified of being alone”. She said: “Some people want their ashes scattered in a different place, I don’t because I think I would be lonely. I’m the kind of person that wouldn’t mind staying in the top drawer in the kitchen for a while. The one thing my family know is I am petrified of being alone. I don’t want to die alone.”

The cancer activist also thanked the NHS and her doctor and nurses, saying she was grateful for the advances in science that allowed her extra years with her children. She said: “As emotional as I am, I don’t want to be a sad story. I could have died when my kids were seven and nine, but science and brilliant doctors and my rebellious hope has given me a life which has enabled me to have holidays and experience things that I never thought possible and raise awareness of bowel cancer and do a tiny bit of good.

“What else could I wish for? I just feel gutted, absolutely gutted, that the things I love — I love life — I won’t get to see, hear, taste, or smell [anymore]. I have so outlived my prognosis, it’s ridiculous. I want to thank everyone: the NHS, my doctors, and nurses. I am now sounding like an Oscar winner except there are no medals for dying.”

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