Dame Deborah James: what does last letter to family say?

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The late charity activist told her children in her last letter that they could do whatever they wanted with every second of every day

The last letter, the late Mrs Deborah James wrote to her family was revealed in her posthumous new book.

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The book, titled How to Live When You Could Be Dead, was written by Dame Deborah – who was known by the nickname gut babyas she struggled with colon cancer.

She sadly lost her battle with the disease in June 2022 at the age of 40.

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So what does the letter say, what advice did Deborah leave her children, and where can you buy the book?

Here’s everything you need to know.

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The late Deborah James’ final letter to her husband Sebastien, their 14-year-old son Hugo and their 12-year-old daughter Eloise was published in her posthumous book, How to Live When You Could Be Dead.

What does Deborah James’ last letter say?

Dame Deborah, who battled cancer for four years before losing her battle with the disease in June, decided she wanted to leave a letter for her family to read when she died.

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She also wanted to share the life lessons she learned during her cancer journey and the book she wrote focuses on staying positive in the face of adversity.

The Sun shared an exclusive excerpt from Deborah’s poignant recent letter to husband Sebastien, son Hugo, 14, and daughter Eloise, 12.

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It read: “Right now I’m sitting here next to the love of my life, Sebastien.

“I never knew for sure if you could really have the love of your life, but now I know what’s at the heart of unquestioned love between two people.

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“I have always loved my husband. I liked him when I first met him and I knew I would marry him after our third date.

“I knew that while he wasn’t perfect, there was something about him that suited me.

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“He respected me and never let me step on him or wrap him around my pinky.

He was and always will be the only person who can come in at 3am and make everything better. He makes me feel safe.”

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She added: “I wish I had learned at a young age that making time for your marriage should be as much a part of your schedule as going to the gym or brushing your teeth.

“It’s important that you don’t let big arguments build up when you really just want to forget everything and cuddle with the one person you love.

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“As cancer ends my life, I have this cruel realization that I can’t quite be myself with the one person I adored and needed in my life more than anyone else.

“I feel robbed of the freedom of a pain-free kissable body, the freedom to make quirky plans together for our future and retirement.

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“Our goals and dreams had to be adjusted week by week and day by day depending on the cancer.

“My husband has always been my rock. He holds me up when I can’t stand up and wipes away my tears.”

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What advice did Deborah James give her children?

Deborah James continued her emotional and beautiful letter by writing directly to her two children, Hugo and Eloise.

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She wrote: “For Hugo and Eloise I can’t even talk about you without crying. You’re my World.

“I’ve learned that there are many ways to become a parent – nothing is right or wrong as long as there is love.

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“I also learned that children are more resilient than we think. There are mental snapshots of parenting that will never leave you.”

She added: “I believe in self-fulfilling prophecies, I believe in rebellious hope and I believe that when I die, my children will be fine. Because if I tell them they won’t be, maybe they won’t be.

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“I want them to realize that life doesn’t always go according to plan.

“You can make plans and have goals, but you have to be prepared that sometimes life is more interesting off the slopes – so be brave.

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“Take the chance and support yourself. Remember to be your number one cheerleader.

“Don’t leave the world and all it has to offer until retirement – experience it now.

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“Learn to balance living in the now and being present in the moment with your future plans (although this may be the hardest lesson of all).

“Marry only for love.”

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She challenged her to do something every day that makes her happy.

“Take a break. Relaxing isn’t an indulgence — it’s a way of replenishing ourselves. None of us can drink from empty cups.

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“Do things every day that make you happy – build them into your life and never criticize others for the things that make them happy.

“Every day we wake up not knowing if we’re going to see the full 24 hours of the day, so we should feel blessed when the sun rises on a new day.

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“We have 86,400 seconds available every day, and each of us chooses how to use it.

It’s only when they begin to slip away from us that we understand the value of each and every one of those seconds.

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“Well, my biggest advice to you is that you can do whatever you want with those seconds. You can use them however you want.”

Where can I buy Deborah James’ book?

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You can pre-order Deborah James’ book How to Live When You Could Be Dead now Amazon.

You can choose either a Kindle or hardcover version, with prices starting at £9.99.

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The book will be released on Thursday, August 18th.

Who Was Deborah James?

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Deborah James was a former Deputy Headmistress-turned-cancer activist from London.

She was honored with a damehood in May 2022 after raising more than £6million for charity after founding a Just give side to raise funds for clinical trials and research and to raise awareness of the disease.

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She has written for and appeared in a variety of publications including The Sunday Times, The Sun, Daily Mail, The Times, Grazia, Women’s Health and Marie Claire, and The Independent.

Deborah has also written a bestselling book, F*** You Cancer, which is a self-help guide to living your best life with cancer, and was a presenter on the BBC podcast, You, Me And The Big C. .

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Deborah was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2016 and has since kept her one million Instagram followers updated on her treatments, sharing candid posts about her progress and diagnosis.

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