First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has agreed to meet with campaigners to discuss policy proposals for the Scottish Government to play its part in helping to stop deaths from breast cancer by 2050.

Tuesday 16 February 2016      Scotland
MSP who survived breast cancer supports campaign to stop deaths by 2050

Patricia Ferguson MSP raised Breast Cancer Now’s 2050 Challenge campaign at First Minister’s Questions. During a moving exchange in the Chamber she revealed her own diagnosis of a rare form of the disease in 2008 and highlighted the story of Colin Leslie, who lost his fiancée Sharon to the disease.

The commitment comes after Monday’s launch of Breast Cancer Now’s 2050 challenge campaign, which saw breast cancer patients and their families join the charity in calling on politicians to help stop deaths from the disease by 2050.

They are calling for MSPs and the Scottish Government to support:

  • Improving access to life-extending medicines
  • Continuing to catch breast cancer earlier by protecting the Detect Cancer Early Programme
  • Offering lifestyle advice and support to women when they attend breast screening
  • Helping to make more breakthroughs by freeing up clinicians’ time to take part in research

Breast Cancer Now also revealed shocking figures this week revealing that almost 10,000 lives are predicted to be lost to breast cancer in Scotland over the next ten years.*

Ms Ferguson was diagnosed with a rare form of breast cancer in 2008, and subsequently underwent a mastectomy and reconstructive surgery. Today she joined patients and families affected by breast cancer from across Scotland in calling for MSPs to join the 2050 Challenge. She said:

“As a breast cancer survivor myself, I know how crucial this campaign is, but I am one of the lucky ones.

"No one should have to go through losing a family member from this disease in the way Colin Leslie has. However, the shocking fact is that so many still do and thousands will for years to come if we don’t act now.

"Together, we can and must act to stop deaths from breast cancer by 2050."

Colin Leslie, from Edinburgh, is one of the 2050 Challenge campaigners in Scotland. He lost his fiancée Sharon Addison to breast cancer in 2014 – the day before he was due to run a marathon to raise money for breast cancer research. He said:

"I welcome the positive news that the First Minister is willing to listen to what we have to say, and I thank MSP Patricia Ferguson for raising the issue. Hopefully it will lead to real action to stop deaths from the disease.

"It is a heart-breaking statistic that around 1,000 women in Scotland still die each year of breast cancer. My fiancée Sharon was sadly one of them but I believe women can be given a far better chance of surviving breast cancer in the future.

"With greater support for research, better treatments and increasing levels of awareness, we can stop breast cancer taking away the women we love.”

Breast Cancer Now’s Director for Scotland, Mary Allison, said:

“I’d like to thank Patricia and all of our supporters who bravely share their experience of this terrible disease in efforts to help future generations.

“At Breast Cancer Now we believe that we can stop deaths from breast cancer by 2050 – but only if we all act now.

“MSPs have the power to help save lives. We want them to use it. Our campaign proposes clear ways that politicians can improve treatment and prevention, better support research and continue early detection.

“We are looking forward to discussing these proposals with the First Minister.”

More information

Watch the Scottish Parliament First Minister's Questions in full

Read more about our 2050 Challenge

Email your MSP and ask them to use their power to help stop women dying from breast cancer by 2050

Find out about our other campaigns and how you can get involved

* Estimated projection for the number of women dying from breast cancer in Scotland between 2015-2025 is 9,868. Calculated by the Statistical Information Team at Cancer Research UK, March 2015, based on data from Sasieni P, et al. Cancer mortality projections in the UK to 2030 (unpublished). Analyses undertaken and data supplied upon request; January 2016. Similar data can be found on the Cancer Research UK Cancer Statistics website.