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Sunday, July 14, 2024
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Shropshire woman who beat cancer three times issues plea to save lives

A Shropshire woman who beat cancer three times is calling for the next UK Government to help save more lives from cancer.

Val Sinclair, from Pontesbury, near Shrewsbury who describes herself as “one of the lucky ones”, says she is living proof of the power of research after being diagnosed with breast cancer three times.

Underlining unacceptable cancer waiting times and an alarming £1bn gap in funding for life-saving research, Val believes she owes her life to Cancer Research UK after she was told she had a type of breast cancer that could be controlled by a targeted treatment the charity helped to develop called Letrozole.

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She said: “Research is essential if cancer is ever going to be ‘eradicated’ or if cures are to be found. In the meantime, research is helping to find new ways of treatment and diagnosis, but much more is needed.”

Val backs Cancer Research UK’s Turning Point for Cancer campaign

Now, as polling day fast-approaches, Val – who is a popular blues and jazz singer – is backing Cancer Research UK’s Turning Point for Cancer campaign and says tackling the disease must be a top election priority for all political parties. 

Her call comes as new analysis from the charity reveals around 190,000 people in the West Midlands and Shropshire region are projected to be diagnosed with cancer in the next five years.

Val said: “Cancer is the defining health issue of our time. So many people’s lives are touched by this devastating disease and the numbers are only growing. So, we must make sure cancer is at the forefront of the minds of all future MPs.”

Next UK Government could help prevent around 500 cancer deaths

Cancer Research UK’s calculations reveal that within five years, the next UK Government could help prevent around 500 deaths from the disease in the West Midlands.

That’s if a long-term, fully-funded cancer strategy is rapidly rolled out after the election, along with measures to support research and better prevent, diagnose and treat the disease. With sustained progress, this could rise to around 2,900 deaths avoided in the region in a decade.

That’s why Val is urging people across Shropshire and the West Midlands to call on their local parliamentary candidates to commit to transforming cancer survival by emailing them ahead of the election on the 4th July at cruk.org/localcandidates.

She warns that analysis shows if current trends in cancer death rates continue, without action, the UK is at risk of collectively losing a staggering 13 million years of life to cancer in the first parliamentary term alone.

Val understands what is at stake all too well after a routine mammogram showed a lump in her left breast in 2013. She had a cancerous tumour removed and underwent 15 sessions of radiotherapy.

After five years she was discharged but continued to have a mammogram every 18 months.

Just two years later, Val’s consultant expressed concern after examining her right breast. A mammogram showed no signs of a tumour, but her consultant carried out an ultrasound – and another lump was found.

Val had the second tumour removed and underwent radiotherapy but two years later, despite a routine mammogram once again showing no ‘no change from last time’ , her consultant expressed concerned after carrying out a physical examination – this time again for her left breast. When an ultrasound scan found a third tumour, Val decided to have her breast removed.

She said: “I’m so grateful to the amazing breast consultant whose skill found the tumours while at a low grade. I never needed chemotherapy treatment so I can honestly say I don’t feel like I’ve had cancer three times.

“The mastectomy took longer to recover from, but I was still performing four weeks later. Cancer is evil and has no respect for anyone. You have to challenge it and feel that you are bigger than it will ever be. I’m now very open about having breast cancer, and a mastectomy, and to be able to speak about a positive experience will hopefully encourage other women to be positive. We are a ‘sisterhood’, there are so many of us.”

Val added: “Success stories like mine would not be possible without advances in research and treatment. So, it’s distressing to think how many friends, family and colleagues could be affected by the fall-out if we don’t speed up progress in the fight against cancer. 

“With so many challenges and funding issues surrounding cancer research and care, it’s vital that saving lives comes before politics. When you hear those terrible words, “It’s cancer,” all you want to know is you – or your loved one – have the best possible chance of surviving. Whoever wins the general election, the next UK Government must help make this a reality for cancer patients everywhere.” 

Campaigning efforts

Val is in good company with her campaigning efforts. Familiar faces from stage and screen, including actors Stephen Graham and Daisy Edgar-Jones, comedian John Bishop and TV presenter Alison Hammond have already lent their support. 

Cancer Research UK’s spokesperson for the Midlands, Louise Elliott, said:   

“Nearly 1 in 2 people will get cancer in their lifetime. It affects every family, in every constituency. So, as political parties reach out to the country, there’s never been a better opportunity to come together and demand the action people affected by the disease so desperately need and deserve. This general election must be a turning point for cancer. 

“We’re grateful to Val for joining the groundswell of supporters, scientists and stars who are backing our campaign and hope her story will inspire people across the West Midlands to have their say by emailing their local candidates. 

“The entire cancer community is calling for the next UK Government to introduce a bold and long-term plan to prevent future cancers and improve survival. 

“Urgent action to tackle the disease will mean more life-saving research, more people diagnosed and treated earlier, and ultimately, more people in the West Midlands living longer, better lives.” 

Back the Turning Point for Cancer campaign now at cruk.org/localcandidates.

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