Cancer Care: Young Adults — [Ian Paisley in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 4:00 pm on 8th June 2022.

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Photo of Julie Marson Julie Marson Conservative, Hertford and Stortford 4:00 pm, 8th June 2022

I very much welcome the hon. Lady’s intervention. She is absolutely right. Her work to raise awareness of ovarian and breast cancer is all part of that hugely important process. I lost a dear friend to ovarian cancer, and it is a very difficult and unspecific thing to diagnose, or even for someone to realise that they might have the relevant symptoms. Breast cancer we have made a lot of progress with, and we have to keep that up. There are different cancers, with different symptoms, and awareness of the range of symptoms and how those might impact on different people is key to early diagnosis, to self-diagnosis so that people say, “Let’s go to a GP now”, and to get that GP to take things forward to identify the real underlying issue. I thank the hon. Lady.

The pivotal role that general practice doctors play in diagnosing patients early cannot be overstated. People—our sons, daughters, mothers, fathers, family, friends and neighbours across the board, regardless of age, race, sex or any characteristic—are equally deserving of diagnostic testing and referral. Patients must be accorded the time, space and physical contact to voice their concerns when presenting with recurrent and progressively aggressive symptoms. Listening and acting are key.

I know that the Minister is listening. We have met and discussed the issue, and her own experience in the nursing profession gives her great empathy and insight. I look forward to hearing her response in a moment. I also take this opportunity to thank my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, who is arranging to meet Mr and Mrs Brady to discuss Jessica’s experience, what we can learn from it and how we might be able to implement Jess’s law.

I am also grateful to all those who have contributed today, in particular my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for North East Hertfordshire, who stands shoulder to shoulder with the Brady family. Finally, but most importantly, I reiterate my thanks to and deepest sympathy for Simon and Andrea Brady and their family. We do not want to hear tragic stories such as Jess’s—not because we do not care, but precisely because we do.

To conclude, I will repeat a detail of Jess’s story that I think illustrates the high regard in which she was held. On the day of her funeral, a satellite that she helped to design was launched into space from Cape Canaveral. It was inscribed with the words, “Thank you, Jess!” In honour of Jessica Brady, let us implement Jess’s law, so that other young adults who face the trauma of cancer in future can also say, “Thank you, Jess.”