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Last week, we took our secondary breast cancer campaign to the top as we met the Scottish Cabinet Secretary for Health, Jeane Freeman.
Jane O’Neil and Alison Tait, two of our fantastic secondary breast cancer campaign group members, along with our Head of Policy and Evidence, Gunes Kalkan, attended the meeting to discuss the recommendations from our recent secondary breast cancer report and urge the Scottish Government to do more to help people living with secondary breast cancer.
As part of our campaign, we’re calling for Health Ministers and Cabinet Secretaries across the UK to meet with us and people living with secondary breast cancer to tell us what action they will take to improve treatment and support for those living with the disease.
Securing this meeting with the Cabinet Secretary for Health shows the impact the campaign is having and gave us a great opportunity to raise these issues at the highest levels of Scottish Government.
At the meeting, Alison and Jane spoke passionately about their own experiences of living with secondary breast cancer as well as the impact of the disease on others around them.
We spoke about the fact that we still do not know how many people are living with secondary breast cancer in Scotland, or across the UK. Without this vital information, it is challenging for health bodies to plan how to support people with the disease.
We explained the vital importance of support from a specialist nurse and how our research showed that too many people are going without this in Scotland and the UK.
We raised the issue of delays in diagnosis for secondary breast cancer and how this could be addressed through better information on the signs and symptoms of the disease given to people who have finished treatment for primary breast cancer, as well as support for GPs to help them diagnose cases sooner.
Finally, we highlighted the difficulty that some people experience in accessing clinical trials, along with delays in essential new treatments being approved for use.
We were pleased with the Scottish Government’s response as they said they would take steps to urgently address the issues we raised, and work with us and people living with secondary breast cancer, to push these forward. We left feeling that the meeting was a very positive step forward and we will now continue to keep the pressure up to ensure urgent action is taken.
Following the meeting, Alison commented: “I thought it was a very productive meeting and I'm very excited about the commitment that was not just to take action, but to take action quickly.”
Jane added: “I too felt the meeting went very well. I would add though that the onus is now very much on us to keep up the pressure on the Scottish Government to ensure what’s been promised and agreed to is delivered”.
We’ll be working hard alongside our campaigners to keep the pressure on the Scottish Government and to secure meetings with Health Leaders in the other UK nations.
If you haven’t yet added your name to our campaign, there’s still time. Show your support and sign the petition.