Deborah James’ ‘crippling panic attacks’ stopped following cancer diagnosis

The late Dame Deborah James revealed in her posthumous book that she suffered "periods of frequent, crippling panic attacks" that stopped following her cancer diagnosis.

The 40 year old mother of two passed away on June 28 after a valiant five-year battle with bowel cancer, during which time she raised awareness about the disease, as well as a jaw-dropping £7million for cancer research.

Extracts from her forthcoming book, How To Live When You Could Be Dead, have been published in The Sun, and the the latest details Deborah's suffering from panic attacks and anxiety for most of her own life – written in her own words.

Deborah revealed that she once suffered a panic attach in the changing room of a Karen Millen store in London’s Covent Garden, causing her to flee on to the street in her underwear.

She wrote: “I often woke up in the middle of the night already in the grip of an episode, believing my body was dying.

“The great irony, of course, being that when I was younger and not facing death, my fear of it was so uncontrolled that quite often it stopped me from living."

Detailing how these panic attacks "stopped her from living", Deborah said: “I stayed at home when I should have been out enjoying myself, I missed holidays because of my fear of flying. Do you know what finally ‘cured’ me?

“The worst happened and my fear was realised – I was told I had incurable cancer and that I would die.

“I had no choice any more – I had to look my biggest fear straight in the eye.”

In another extract from the book that was published in The Sun over the weekend, Dame Deborah encouraged her children, Hugo, 14, and Eloise, 12, to “marry only for love” in her final letter to her family.

She wrote: "You are my world. I’ve learned that there are many ways to parent – nothing is right or wrong as long as there is love."

Giving advice to her family, she wrote: "Take a chance and back yourself. Remember to be your number one cheerleader.

"Marry only for love. Buy a dog — I bought Winston at one of the lowest points in my life and he has made me so happy. Nature and animals make me happy.:

She continued: "Relaxing isn’t an indulgence – it’s a form of refilling ourselves. None of us can drink from empty cups.

"Each day, do things that make you happy — build them into your life and never criticise others for the things that make them happy. Every day we wake not knowing if we will see the full 24 hours of the day, so as the sun comes up on a new day, we should feel blessed.

Deborah's book, How To Live When You Could Be Dead, will be out on August 18.


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