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My father is my unsung hero – he was always there and silently supported me, says Deborah James through tears

LADY Deborah James says her father is her unsung hero who has quietly supported her through her battle with cancer.

In an exclusive interview, the 40-year-old Sun writer, who is in end-of-life care, greets her father Alistair.

Lady Deborah with her "secret hero" Father Alistair

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Dame Deborah with her “unsung heroes” father, Alistair
"My father is my unsung hero now more than ever"said Lady Debs

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“My father is my unsung hero now more than ever,” said Dame DebsPhoto credit: Instagram
Still raising funds, Dame Debs has increased her appeal to Bowel Babe by selling t-shirts with her Rebellious Hope motto

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Still raising funds, Dame Debs has increased her appeal to Bowel Babe by selling t-shirts with her Rebellious Hope mottoCredit: Bowelbabe/Instagram

She released a poignant message ahead of an emotional Father’s Day.

The Sun writer, 40, explains she’ll be having “a whiskey or two” with her father Alistair – who she describes as her “unsung hero”.

She said: “My father is my unsung hero, more than ever. He’s quiet behind the scenes making sure I’m okay.

“He’s always been a very comforting, loving presence in my life – he’s very good at dealing with me and all my weirdness. His patience knows no bounds.”

I'm done but dad is here to hold me up, says Deb James in a heartfelt post
Deborah James' final television appearance airs tonight as she shares a life-saving message

If she was ever in trouble with her dad, Debs reveals she knew “sh*t was bad.”

She says: “It didn’t matter how naughty I was, he knew how to deal with me.

“When I ruined the bathroom while dying my hair, he put up with it all.

“Even at 40, he was the man I called when I broke down.

“He came to me with a can of gas when I ran out of gas and needed rescue.

“All my life he’s just stood behind me and held me still.”

Debs says she’s never been so grateful.

While she was in the hospital for months earlier this year, only her mother, Heather, was allowed to see her.

But it was father Alistair who drove them in every day to make sure his daughter wasn’t alone.

Debs reflects, “It must have been horrible that he couldn’t visit me. I’m his daughter too.

“It breaks my heart to know they have to see this, I can’t imagine what it must feel like.”

She added: “I wasn’t always a big fan of telling dad how much I love him so take it from me, just say it. You never know when it might be your last chance.”

I wasn’t always a big fan of telling Dad how much I love him, so take it from me, just say it

Deborah James

Like her husband Seb and her brother Ben, it is Debs’ father who picks her up and helps her enjoy the remaining days.

One of her greatest sources of comfort is cooking – and as with everything she does, Alistair is there to support her.

“I’m finding cooking really therapeutic right now, not that I ever actually eat the food,” jokes Debs.

“I’m excruciatingly slow at everything, but Dad just patiently helps. The other night it took about an hour and a half to cook fajitas when it was supposed to take 30 minutes.

“Rather than trying it just for me, he handed me the different ingredients and let me do my thing.

“It sounds like a small thing, but it means the world — and I love doing it with him.”

As we talk, Debs’ brother Ben is making her egg sandwich for breakfast.

Debs emphasizes: “He’s going on vacation to the USA tomorrow. I told him they have to go, they’ve been planning the trip for ages. I also told him that under no circumstances should he come back.”

But she tells me, “He says he’s coming home.”

She adds: “It’s going to be awful to say goodbye to him. I can’t really think about that at the moment.”

And with the horrifying inevitable looming, she reveals her greatest comfort is watching her husband Seb’s “incredible” father to their children Hugo, 14, and Eloise, 12.

She also admitted, “It’s too hard to think about not going to see my son as a father.”

“Can’t stop crying”

As she reflects on the men in her life, she says, “I can’t stop crying. I’m incredibly lucky, it’s hard to put it all into words.

“For me, this year is about my father and Seb, but also about the men in my life who hopefully one day will also be fathers, my son and my brother.

“I can’t really grasp the fact that I won’t be here to see that. it breaks me

“The biggest thing for me right now, as I don’t know how long I have left, is that the kids will be fine.

“Seb is a great father, he’s incredibly good with both of them.

“I have absolutely no concerns about what is going to happen to the children.

“He has a crush on them and I know they won’t want for anything.

“He loves her so much and I know he’ll love her for me too when I’m gone.”

The fact that she lived to see Father’s Day comes as a surprise to Debs, who left hospital over a month ago for end of life care at her parents’ home in Woking, Surrey.

Given that Debs only had days—weeks at most—to live, she was determined to make it count.

The cancer activist went into overdrive, raising £6.7million for her BowelBabe Fund.

She published a new book, launched a clothing line and raised a further £1million for her fund by selling T-shirts emblazoned with her Rebellious Hope motto.

And after The Sun launched a campaign in honor of our columnist, Debs was made a dame one day – and had invited Prince William to tea to celebrate.

Plus, she defied all odds to make it to Royal Ascot this week and tells me there’s more on her list when she’s ready.

It’s kept her going, but Debs admits predicting further is proving difficult — not knowing is “impossible,” she says.

She explains: “I woke up in the middle of the night with a panic attack. I am exhausted.

“I thought I had only a few days to live when I left The Royal Marsden.

“I had a time frame, but now we don’t know how long I have left. It’s a very tough place.

“I keep asking my nurses, ‘How do I know when the end is coming,’ but no one has an answer.

“It’s different for everyone. But right now my body is still working, I’m still eating and enjoying a cocktail or two. The hardest thing is how uncomfortable I feel.

“My brother’s fiancee Ashley described it perfectly. It’s like sitting in the most uncomfortable airplane seat on the longest flight and not getting out. I am completely dependent on my family when moving, and it is difficult for them too.”

“It breaks my heart that I won’t see their children”

Ben recently popped the question to Ashley after 11 years together.

The proposal came not long after Prince William visited the family to honor Debs – and apparently gave Ben a nudge.

At the time, Debs revealed: “He finally put a ring on it. If you follow me, you will be well aware of brother’s prank features, and even Prince William recently joined the action.

“The question to my brother was always, ‘Why didn’t you propose?'”

Debs says it was hard accepting that she won’t see her wedding, but when the topic of her children comes up, she bursts into tears again.

She says: “My brother will be the most amazing father. I’m so glad he’s engaged, I love Ashley and they are so happy together.

“I’ve watched him over the years and especially lately with my kids. He’s this hilarious uncle, he and Ashley spoil her mercilessly.

Seb loves her so much, I know he will love her for me too when I’m gone

Deborah James

“And he’s also wonderful with his godchildren.

“It breaks my heart that I won’t see their children or the father he will be.

“But I know without a doubt that he will be amazing.”

It’s fitting that as Father’s Day approaches, it was the men in her life – especially her husband – who inspired Debs to create her latest limited-edition t-shirt, Rebellious Hope.

The new navy and white option, launched Thursday night, helped Debs and the brand In The Style hit a momentous milestone in just a few hours.

She says excitedly: “All sales of my Rebellious Hope t-shirts have helped raise £1million for my fund. It’s mind blowing, I’m so thankful to every single person who bought one and helped us raise such an amazing sum.”

Debs ends our conversation by asking everyone to give it up for the dads.
She says: “I don’t think fathers ever get as much recognition as we mothers do, do they?

“I wasn’t always a big fan of telling my dad how much I love him, so take it from me, just say it.

“You never know when it might be your last chance.”

Deborah cried as she spoke about being alive on her last Father's Day - pictured with her husband, children and Prince William

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Deborah cried as she spoke about being alive on her last Father’s Day – pictured with her husband, children and Prince WilliamPhoto credit: Graham Prentice
Deborah's brother Ben recently popped the question to his girlfriend Ashley after 11 years together

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Deborah’s brother Ben recently popped the question to his girlfriend Ashley after 11 years together
It's too hard to think about not seeing my son as a father, says Dame Deborah James

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It’s too hard to think about not seeing my son as a father, says Dame Deborah JamesPhoto credit: Instagram
With the horrific inevitable looming, Dame Debs reveals her greatest comfort is watching her husband Seb's'incredible' father to their children Hugo, 14, and Eloise, 12

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With the horrific inevitable looming, Dame Debs reveals her greatest comfort is watching her husband Seb’s ‘incredible’ father to their children Hugo, 14, and Eloise, 12Credit: Circe Hamilton

LET’S TALK ABOUT POO AND END THE TABOO

DAME Debs used her recent TV appearance to urge everyone to be open about their bowel habits.

Speaking on E4’s Awkward Bodies on Thursday, she said: “I had this image of colon cancer as an old man’s disease, which I now know isn’t the case. It is one of the fastest growing cancers in people under the age of 50.

“I started going to the bathroom eight times a day, we have to say that. I used to be a once-a-day girl.”

Debs said fatigue, weight loss and blood in her poop led her to believe something was wrong.

She said to Dr. Tosin Ajayi-Sotubo from the show: ‘Can you take that message to the streets for me?

“We shouldn’t be ashamed. We all poop like our favorite stars, let’s smash these taboos because it will save lives.”

Debs has said she has no plans for television anymore.

https://www.the-sun.com/health/5594065/deborah-james-dad-unsung-hero-fathers-day/ My father is my unsung hero – he was always there and silently supported me, says Deborah James through tears

Sarah Y. Kim

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