Three years ago this week, I had the last in what had been seven months of chemotherapy treatment for breast cancer. I was 35 when diagnosed and my children were 8, 5 and 3. It was a devastating blow to us all.
Thanks to the Cancer Guarantee, introduced by our Labour Government, I am standing here today; because of Labour's NHS, my husband still has his wife and my children still have their mother.
I was referred by my GP and seen by a cancer specialist in just 8 days and it was just two weeks from that initial consultation that I was wheeled in to theatre for surgery.
Early detection is our greatest weapon in the fight against cancer and Andrew Lansley has assured us that he will keep the fourteen-day cancer guarantee - we were going to reduce it to seven days.
For patients like me, detection is only the beginning. I was fortunate enough to be treated at my local hospital in Barnsley and I pay tribute to the staff in the Breast Unit who cared for me. Barnsley hospital has a satellite centre for cancer treatment, meaning that I could have chemotherapy there, rather than have the additional cost and difficulty of traveling almost 20 miles to Sheffield. It is provision such as this that is at risk under Coalition Health cuts.
The White paper says they will pay hospitals based on outcomes, but it is impossible to calculate a cost for prevention. This then puts at risk early screening programmes that women such as my own daughter will need when she is old enough, due to her family history. Something that is not their fault.
I do not want women like me to be the "waste" that is cut out of the NHS by the Coalition.
- We have the right to not worry about whether we can afford our treatment.
- We have the right to local care.
- We have the right to survive.