Chloe Smith: ‘My Breast Cancer Diagnosis Made Me All Too Aware Of What It’s Like To Feel Vulnerable And In Need Of Care’

One year on from her breast-cancer diagnosis, MP Chloe Smith is cancer free. But her experiences have shaped how she sees her new role as Minister for Disabled People.

Chloe Smith MP breast cancer diagnosis

by Chloe Smith |

It’s been a year since I received the life-changing diagnosis of breast cancer. What followed was seven months of gruelling chemotherapy, radiotherapy treatment, a mastectomy and reconstructive surgery. Twelve months on I’m cancer-free and feeling as fit as ever, but forever grateful for the wonderful care I have received through the NHS.

On Wear It Pink Day it is imperative women continue to check their breasts and contact their doctor without delay if they are concerned.

Acting swiftly gave me the best possible chance of beating cancer. Early screening prevents around 13,000 women in the UK dying from the disease each year, but we also know from Breast Cancer Now that almost one million women missed a potentially lifesaving screening due to the pandemic. Those numbers are clearly troubling, and must be reversed.

Not everyone’s cancer journey goes the same way as mine; I was one of the lucky ones, but the NHS is there to support you every step of the way. Ensuring the NHS can continue to carry out their life-changing work is our absolute priority which is why the UK Government is providing an extra £1billion to boost diagnosis and elective treatment for the year ahead, and investing £325million in NHS diagnostic machines to improve the experience for cancer patients. Routine mammograms are also available for women aged between 50 and 71 through The NHS Breast Screening Programme.

If you’re worried, speak to your GP. Practices are holding face-to-face appointments to support patients from diagnosis through to recovery, alongside hospital care.

The experiences and challenges I’ve faced over the past year have made me all too aware of what it’s like to feel ill, vulnerable and in need of care. And with that greater sense of empathy and understanding, I’m now eager to help others in my new role as Minister for Disabled People, with the mission to improve the lives of those who need our support the most.

I know first-hand what it’s like finding your feet again in the workplace after a major health problem. The experience has made me even more determined to ensure more jobs are made accessible to disabled people and employees with long term health conditions. We’ve already made a start on this through our National Disability Strategy, and our inclusive Plan for Jobs will help more disabled people to find, secure and progress in fulfilling work.

The strategy also promises to improve accessibility to vital everyday services, such as housing, transport and education, not only for those who live with a disability for all of their lives but also for others who find themselves unexpectedly in need of support.

Breast cancer isn’t something you plan for, so it’s important you get the help that you need if you are affected. I was so grateful for national charities like Breast Cancer Now, Macmillan Cancer Support and Cancer Research UK – who provide expert help and guidance. And don’t forget to check out the brilliant support local charities provide too.

For now, let’s work together to spread the word: talk to your GP and get yourselves checked. Don’t leave it too late – it could save your life.

Main image: Chloe Smith

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