- Dame Tessa Jowell gave a moving speech on her cancer in the UK House of Lords.
- Jowell, a cabinet minister under Tony Blair, has glioblastoma, a severe brain cancer.
- Lords gave her a standing ovation after the speech, a very rare show of support.
A former government minister visibly suffering from brain cancer was given a rare standing ovation in the Houses of Parliament after a powerful speech about her experience with the disease.
Dame Tessa Jowell, a former member of Tony Blair’s cabinet, spoke about her experience of being treated for glioblastoma, a serious brain cancer.
She called for more resources for patients and Britain’s National Health Service (NHS) after sharing her experiences of diagnosing and dealing with her illness.
“On the 24 May last year I was on my way to talk, not for the first time, about new Sure Start projects in East London, I got into a taxi but I couldn’t speak. I had two powerful seizures. I was taken to hospital. Two days later I was told that I had a brain tumour,” she revealed.
Jowell, a member of the House of Lords, addressed her colleagues at length, opening the debate on cancer care. She was visibly suffering from illness, stumbling over her words and wearing a hat where once she had kept a full head of hair in a bob.
Tessa Jowell receives a standing ovation in the House of Lords, after she delivers moving speech on cancer care, appealing for patients to be able to trial treatments https://t.co/krOn1sstn2 pic.twitter.com/Fa1bOJgKDi
— BBC News (UK) (@BBCNews) January 25, 2018
She criticised the UK system for producing “the worst survival rates in Western Europe” for brain conditions such as hers. Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt was watching on from the sidelines.
After she had finished speaking, her fellow peers broke into spontaneous applause and stood up, which lasted for around a minute.
Clapping is very unusual in either the Houses of Parliament, and is effectively banned in the House of Commons, where MPs sit.
In general, the Lords is much more restrained than the Commons in tone. Members are more often seen falling asleep than applauding vigorously, underlining the esteem with which they held Jowell’s speech.
Watch the full speech here, via the UK Parliament’s official video feed: