by Rosemary Wormington
Head of Support, Brain Tumour Support
It is a year since Dame Tessa Jowell made her inspirational speech about life as a brain tumour patient to the House of Lords. To mark this anniversary and to mark what has already been achieved by the newly formed Tessa Jowell Brain Cancer Mission, we were invited to attend a commemorative evening at the House of Lords.
We started by watching some of Tessa’s speech to remind us of the salient points. It is obvious from Tessa’s faltering speech that she was beginning to lose her ability to communicate, and her daughter, Jess Mills, confirmed later that Tessa was very poorly at this point and that this was the last public speech that her mother made.
Jess gave a very emotional speech about her inspirational mother, her selfless commitment to wanting to make a difference by uniting all those who also want to make a difference and asking them to work together to improve the lives of brain tumour patients and their families.
It was very encouraging and inspiring to be in a room full of people who care so passionately about improving outcomes for people affected by a brain tumour. We heard from a variety of people including Prof Richard Gilbertson, chair of Tessa Jowell Brain Cancer Mission, who reminded us of the aims and objectives of the TJBCM; Colin Watts, Chair of the Brain Cancer Program, University of Birmingham who heads the team on clinical improvements, treatments and research; and Sarah Jefferies, Clinical Director of Cancer at Addenbrookes Hospital Cambridge and Clinical Oncologist working on more integrated medical and clinical pathways and developing the Tessa Jowell Fellowship to ensure that neuro specialists receive appropriate training.
I also spoke at length to Peter Realf who attends our Coventry Support Group but for years has raised awareness of brain tumour issues via his daughter and her petition to government for more funding.
To know that there are people from all walks of life being listened to by people who have the power and responsibility to make the changes needed is encouraging.
There is a lot to be done by government, by MPs, by statutory organisations, the NHS etc but there is also so much that needs to be done at a grass roots level. This is where we can all play a part. Whilst we are waiting for the cure to come, there are tens of thousands of people who need support now, today. That is the challenge we at Brain Tumour Support has chosen to take on and with the
help of the wider brain tumour community, we will make a difference.