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Bowelbabe Fund for Cancer Research UK has raised £11.3mn


The Bowelbabe Fund for Cancer Research UK has revealed that it has raised £11.3mn since its May 2022 launch.

The first projects being funded to continue Dame Deborah James’ legacy have also been announced.

Deborah James, known as ‘Bowelbabe’, was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2016 at the age of 35, and became a dedicated campaigner and fundraiser.

In her final weeks, she worked to establish the Bowelbabe Fund for Cancer Research UK, to support projects she was passionate about, including working with others such as The Institute of Cancer Research, London, The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity and Bowel Cancer UK. Her fundraising target of £250k was beaten in a single day, and when Deborah died on 28 June 2022, the fund had raised nearly £7mn, rising to £11.3mn today.

The initial projects to receive funding from the Bowelbabe Fund for Cancer Research UK are:

A project led by Professor Trevor Graham – Director of the Centre for Evolution and Cancer at The Institute of Cancer Research, London, to discover how bowel cancer spreads, by making detailed measurements of tumours and using advanced mathematics to make sense of the data.

A project led by the OPTIMISTICC Cancer Grand Challenge team, who are analysing the microbiome of thousands of people from across the world to uncover how the microbiome influences bowel cancer.

A project led by Dr Oleg Blyuss – Queen Mary University of London, that is developing AI tools to sort through the data in blood, and predict when someone has developed the earliest signs of bowel, pancreatic or lung cancer.

A new, advanced IR X-Ray machine at The Royal Marsden, offering enhanced imaging resolution that will allow more patients to be treated and help support research at the hospital to help develop advanced targeted therapies for cancer.

Bowel cancer awareness roadshows and primary care education to make a difference in communities hardest hit by poorer bowel cancer outcomes.

The projects announced collectively total around £4mn and are the first round of funding, with more projects due to be confirmed later this year.

Deborah James’ husband Sebastien Bowen, said:

“I’m immensely proud and humbled to continue the work that Deborah started. As a family, we’ve been overwhelmed by all the support the Fund has received, and to raise £11.3mn is just incredible.  We’ve taken some time to select the first round of funded projects, and are pleased to announce them today. There is some fantastic, cutting-edge bowel cancer research and brilliant awareness activity taking place, and we know that Deborah would be behind this every step of the way.”

Chief Executive of Cancer Research UK Michelle Mitchell, commented:

“Dame Deborah James was a force of nature, doing all she could to raise awareness, fundraise and campaign. The overwhelming support the Fund has received is a true testament to how many lives she touched. We’re deeply honoured to be working with Deborah’s family to continue her legacy through the Bowelbabe Fund and are grateful to everyone who has donated. The Fund will be fuelled by Deborah’s spirit of rebellious hope, and the projects announced today are the first step in continuing Dame Deborah’s legacy to bring hope for a better future for people affected by cancer.”

As well as donating to the Bowelbabe Fund, people can now take part in a new event, Race for Life for Bowelbabe. Deborah was an ambassador for Race for Life, taking part for many years and encouraging her followers to sign up as part of Team Bowelbabe. This year, people are being offered the opportunity to take part in their local Race for Life event, in partnership with Standard Life, in her memory. There will also be a special dedication to Deborah at Race for Life’s flagship event on 7 June in Battersea Park, London.

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