BBC newsreader George Alagiah formed a special bond with The Sun’s Dame Deborah James when both were diagnosed with colon cancer.
The presenter shared how he remembered a chance encounter with the mother-of-two during his nine-year streak with the disease.
And he described them as a “beacon” and “consolation” to him.
George, who passed away today at the age of 67, spoke lovingly of Sun writer Dame Deborah, who died in June last year at the age of 40.
Last June he said: “We had a mutual friend.
“When my cancer got into my lungs, they arranged to talk to us because the cancer got into theirs too.”
He recalled phoning her as she was leaving London’s leading cancer hospital, the Royal Marsden, after she had been regularly checked to see if her cancer was spreading.
While “everything was fine that day,” he told her he would call back so she could rush home and tell her family.
He continued, “But she stopped and talked to me for half an hour.”
“It was a great privilege for me to be able to speak to her.”
When she died, George tweeted, “Knowing that Dame Deborah James was nearing the end of her journey here does not make it any easier to accept her death.”
“She was a beacon and paved the way for all of us living with cancer. Thank you for your example. Deborah, rest in peace now.”
And in a documentary about Dame Deborah last year after her death, he said: “All of us who are living with cancer I think we all realize that we don’t want to be a burden so there’s a limited number of people to talk to.”
“For me, Deborah James was one of them.
“Sharing my dilemma, my fears, my desire to cry with someone I knew had been through it and would go through it, was a kind of comfort.”
“Sharing is extremely important. When my sharing moment came, I was fortunate to have someone like Deborah James to talk to.”
He was speaking as part of a BBC documentary highlighting the incredible work Dame Deborah did before her death.
Dame Deborah James: The Last Dance shared her story of being diagnosed and living with stage four colon cancer.
Other contributors included friends from The Sun, You, Me and Big C podcast co-hosts Lauren Mahon and Steve Bland, as well as celebrity presenter friends Lorraine Kelly and Gaby Roslin.
Dame Deborah has raised a staggering £11.3million in the last seven weeks of her life, her family recently revealed.
She started this when she had just a few days to live Bowelbabe Fund on May 9 last year with a goal of raising £250,000.
She wanted to fund vital research “to put a finishing touch on the cancer and give more Deborahs more time.”
Donations have poured in, surpassing their target in just a day – and seven weeks later, when she died on June 28, the fund’s total was almost £7million.