THE death of Dame Deborah James at the tender age of 40 is extremely sad, even if we all knew it was inevitable.

But she really does leave an immense legacy.

When she was diagnosed with the stage three bowel cancer in 2016, the mother-of-two gave up her job as a deputy headteacher to tackle cancer head on.

She didn’t just tackle it, she fought it and laughed in its face. Never cowed, she lived to the full, always with a great sense of fun about her, even when her diagnosis worsened.

She was an inspiration to all who face the disease – and that will be most of us.

Her legacy is more than that, though. It is more even than the £7m she has raised for cancer research.

Herr legacy is to break the many taboos that surround both the Big C and our human bodily functions so that others may live.

"We need to break the poo taboo," she said, calling herself “Bowelbabe” and dressing up in a poo costume to press the message home. "People are embarrassed, they don't want to talk about poo, but let's face it, we all do it."

We do need to talk about poo. We do need to check our poos. We shouldn’t be ashamed or embarrassed by our poos. They could save our lives.

Dame Deborah’s husband and children will be grieving terribly now, and our hearts go out to them. We hope it is some small consolation, though, that she has and will continue to save lives, and that millions of people now talk – or at least think – about poos in a way they never did before.