Dame Deborah James reveals she's 'scared to fall asleep' after terminal cancer diagnosis

Dame Deborah James has revealed she fears going to sleep in case she doesn't wake up as she receives end-of-life care for bowel cancer

Deborah James 'scared' to sleep after terminal cancer diagnosis
(Image credit: Alamy)

Dame Deborah James has admitted she's always 'so tired' because she fears going to sleep after being told her cancer is terminal. 

The British podcaster is currently receiving palliative care for Stage Four bowel cancer in her parents' home, after being diagnosed with the deadly illness five years ago. 

She was told by doctors that she had just a week to live when she left hospital earlier this month, and has now revealed that she's afraid of falling asleep in case she doesn't wake up. The solemn update comes shortly after Prince William visited Deborah in her family house to thank her for her incredible cancer fundraising achievements and award her well-deserved damehood. 

"I don’t feel like I’m on my deathbed," the 40-year-old told the Sun on Tuesday. "I’m not planning on dying anytime soon but it’s just so unpredictable." 

Deborah, who has raised over £6m for Cancer Research UK with her Bowelbabe fund, is now suffering from severe fatigue because she never wants to doze off. 

"I’m scared to fall asleep and that’s one of the biggest reasons I’m so tired," she said. "I am scared to go to sleep." 

Still unsure how long she has left, Deborah has vowed to make the most of her last days by spending as much time as possible with her family. The broadcaster is also determined to protect her two children, Eloise, 12, and Hugo, 14, from the full reality of her illness. 

“I feel very strongly that I don’t want my kids to see me agitated and distressed,” she added. It was for this very reason that Deborah chose to receive hospice care at her parents' house in Woking, rather than in the home she shares with her children and husband, Sebastien Bowen. 

"I want to make sure they [her children] see me when I’m having a good day.”

In the meantime, Deborah is continuing to raise both awareness and money for bowel cancer. Her second book, How To Live When You Could Be Dead, is scheduled for release on 18 August. 

Emma Dooney
Lifestyle News Writer

Hailing from the lovely city of Dublin, Emma mainly covers the Royal Family and the entertainment world, as well as the occasional health and wellness feature. Always up for a good conversation, she has a passion for interviewing everyone from A-list celebrities to the local GP - or just about anyone who will chat to her, really.

Emma holds an MA in International Journalism from City, University of London, and a BA in English Literature from Trinity College Dublin.