The passing of Dame Tessa Jowell was announced yesterday. Since then, many tributes and articles have been emerging all over the place. Dame Jowell seems to have been a very remarkable human being. People describe her as warm, authentic, tenacious, a good listener, a fantastic networker, inspirational, a compassionate person. I did not have the honour of meeting her, but I was impressed by her decisive contribution to the Olympic Games in London, by her support and leading role in many other causes within the community and politics as a whole, and by her contribution to the cause of cancer after her recent intervention in parliament requesting more funding for the research and treatment of brain cancer (January 2018).
As a result of her appeal, the UK government agreed to increase their financial support to brain cancer research, “Theresa May confirmed the government would double investment for research into tackling the disease, to £40m.” (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-44104730).
She said in her speech in January many things which should be memorable to us all,
“…Today is not about politics but patients: patients and the community of carers who love and support them.
What is it that patients and carers feel that they need?
It is, of course, about the NHS. But it is not just about money. But also about the power of kindness.
It is about support for carers.
It’s about better-informed judgements by patients and doctors.
And it is about sharing access to more and better data to develop better treatments.Cancer is a tough challenge to all health systems, and particularly to our cherished NHS.
We have the worst cancer survival rate in Western Europe. Partly because diagnosis is too slow. Brain tumours grow very quickly. And they are hard to spot.
So many cancer patients collaborate and support each other every day. They create that community of love and determination wherever they find each other every day.
All we now ask is that doctors and health systems learn to do the same. To learn from each other.
In the end, what gives a life meaning is not only how it is lived, but how it draws to a close.
I hope this debate will give hope to other cancer patients like me. So that we can live well together with cancer, not just be dying of it.”
(reproduced with own amendments from
Let us live a meaningful life for ourselves, … for our family and friends, for our community and country, for the world that surrounds us. Let us do what we feel proud about the tiny and not so tiny things we do every day. Our legacy is built out of the many kind and beautiful things we can scatter and create with love, passion and compassion all around us.
BBC News (14/05/18). “Tessa Jowell tribute: Funding doubled for brain cancer research” . Available on line at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-44104730 [Accessed 14/05/18]
The Mirror (25/01/18). “ Tessa Jowell Speech in Full.” Available on line at: https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/tessa-jowell-speech-full-labour-11914628 [Accessed 14/05/18]