Prince William presents damehood to Deborah James as cancer fundraiser raises £5m

Duke of Cambridge makes personal visit after ‘Bowelbabe’ told supporters she was receiving end-of-life care for her condition

The Duke of Cambridge has presented podcast host Deborah James with a damehood at her family home after her Cancer Research fundraising initiative passed the £5m mark in just five days.

James, 40, known online as Bowelbabe after campaigning to raise awareness of bowel cancer, launched the JustGiving page on Monday after revealing she was receiving end-of-life care for the condition.

Having set her original target at £250,000, the presenter of BBC podcast You, Me and The Big C has now raised more than 20 times her goal.

Related: From stigma to spotlight: Deborah James puts focus on bowel cancer

Dame Deborah posted pictures of the Duke of Cambridge with herself and her family on Instagram and said it was “such a special day”.

In an earlier post on Instagram, James wrote: “Thanks to an incredibly generous donation earlier today, and to every single person who’s donated to the bowelbabefund, we’ve just reached the unbelievable total of £5m.

“We’re completely lost for words. This is all just beyond anything we could have ever imagined. The last 5 days have been surreal.

“Thank you for putting a huge smile on my face, and helping us to launch a legacy to hopefully impact a lifetime cutting edge cancer care.”

The donations came from more than 240,000 supporters, including the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

“Prince William actually came to our family house today!” she said on Instagram. “It’s quite surreal having a royal pop in at home, and yes, you can imagine the cleaning antics and preparation went off the scale – but it was all irrelevant because William was so kind and he put us all at ease.”

According to her JustGiving page, the money will fund “clinical trials and research into personalised medicine for cancer patients” and support campaigns for bowel cancer awareness.

She began co-presenting You, Me and the Big C with Lauren Mahon and Rachael Bland in 2018, and the trio earned praise for their frank discussions about cancer.

Bland died in September that year at the age of 40, two years after being diagnosed with breast cancer.

James, a former deputy headteacher, was diagnosed with bowel cancer at the end of 2016 and has documented her treatment for her more than half a million Instagram followers frankly throughout.

In an Instagram post on Monday, she said she did not know how long she had left, and that while the last six months had been “heartbreaking” to go through, she had been surrounded by “so much love” and had “no regrets”.