Tag Archives: Jowell

Like Tessa Jowell, I have a brain tumour. I hope her death inspires new research | Jessica Morris

Many people are grieving the untimely death of Tessa Jowell. She was an exceptional person. Tony Blair confirmed the impression she gave to those of us who only knew her from afar: “Tessa had passion, determination and simple human decency in greater measure than any person I have ever known.”

For me, her death is personal for another reason. We found ourselves in the same elite club.

Like Tessa Jowell, I was blindsided by a diagnosis of glioblastoma (GBM) in January 2016. I was walking in the hills in upstate New York (we live in the city) when a strange sensation made me stop. I opened my mouth to explain to my friends and found I couldn’t form any words. I slumped into unconsciousness, having a full-blown seizure.

Two days later I had brain surgery, and the terrible diagnosis came two weeks after that. Now, more than two years later, I am determined to do what I can to improve the outcomes for everyone like me living with this brutal disease. Jowell’s death gives me added impetus in the struggle to turn this monstrous disease around.

After I was diagnosed, I asked my neuro-oncologist why glioblastoma is so deadly; why the terrifying statistics suggested that I had a mere 5% chance of surviving five years. He explained to me that the dreaded figure five also relates to another key statistic: the percentage of successful applications for research funding into GBM. This disease is so complex, so aggressive and so rare, that it is hard to attract substantial research funding.

It is especially gratifying that Jowell’s powerful legacy has already begun to be felt in the form of increased government funding. But she would be the first to agree this is not enough. There is another currency to tap: a goldmine of patient-generated data that is massively under-collected and undervalued. At the heart of every GBM drama, as with any life-threatening disease, is a human being enduring symptoms – some good, many bad – resulting from the cancer and the treatments we take. Yet our relationship as patients with our disease is not consistently recorded or analysed. It can feel as if, from the perspective of the medical system, our experience is not worth understanding.

Tessa Jowell dies aged 70 – video obituary

As an example, I’ve been fortunate enough to be treated in New York with ground-breaking treatments that can be hard to come by in the UK, including electrotherapy and immunotherapy. These cost more than $ 30,000 a month, covered by insurance and the drug company’s compassionate use programme. But how the interaction between these therapies is actually affecting me is not recorded. This reflects a long-standing approach in medicine. The “objective” measures of disease progression, as evidenced by things like the size of my tumour, the results of my MRIs, are prized. The “subjective” measures of my experience – how I feel each day, my personal responses in terms of X or Y – are largely ignored.

Patients are active, wanting to share and swap notes. Desperate to know whether a change in diet, or a cocktail of supplements, or exercise, or mindset, can help them stay alive, they are busy on social media. Amid all this noise, doctors have little advice to give – “Should I adopt the ketogenic diet? Take medical marijuana? Fast twice a week?” – because none of these approaches have been, or could be, subject to the kind of clinical trial a new drug treatment undergoes.

But imagine if we could ask people to log how they’re feeling, and what steps they’re taking to manage their disease, every day. Imagine if we could then aggregate all that data and mine it for insights. Couldn’t we find some clues from patients’ unfiltered perspective that would supplement the clinical trials information?

Dr Ethan Basch, of the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of North Carolina, undertook some fascinating research last year. He found that if you ask someone with cancer to log their symptoms, the act of doing so, coupled with your clinician’s ability to adjust therapies in real time, can lead to an actual improvement in disease outcome. People lived longer.

I’ve channelled my own frustration with my diagnosis into creating OurBrainBank, a non-profit organisation designed to move glioblastoma from terminal to treatable, powered by patients. We recently launched our pilot app in the US. People with GBM can log their symptoms daily and their aggregated data will be available to any qualified GBM researcher worldwide, for free, subject to strict screening. People using the app report feeling more on top of their disease through daily monitoring; better able to make use of their meetings with their clinicians; and more hopeful that by sharing their personal data they can play an active role in making progress.

Tessa Jowell died during May, which happens to be brain tumour awareness month. Our colour is grey. It’s strangely apt. Because what we need to crack GBM is to use our grey cells to think creatively and empathetically – patient and doctor alike.

That’s the kind of approach she espoused. She put it the best: “I hope always my politics are the politics of aspiration, ambition, possibility and the future.”

Jessica Morris is a strategic communications consultant and the founder and chair of OurBrainBank

Like Tessa Jowell, I have a brain tumour. I hope her death inspires new research | Jessica Morris

Many people are grieving the untimely death of Tessa Jowell. She was an exceptional person. Tony Blair confirmed the impression she gave to those of us who only knew her from afar: “Tessa had passion, determination and simple human decency in greater measure than any person I have ever known.”

For me, her death is personal for another reason. We found ourselves in the same elite club.

Like Tessa Jowell, I was blindsided by a diagnosis of glioblastoma (GBM) in January 2016. I was walking in the hills in upstate New York (we live in the city) when a strange sensation made me stop. I opened my mouth to explain to my friends and found I couldn’t form any words. I slumped into unconsciousness, having a full-blown seizure.

Two days later I had brain surgery, and the terrible diagnosis came two weeks after that. Now, more than two years later, I am determined to do what I can to improve the outcomes for everyone like me living with this brutal disease. Jowell’s death gives me added impetus in the struggle to turn this monstrous disease around.

After I was diagnosed, I asked my neuro-oncologist why glioblastoma is so deadly; why the terrifying statistics suggested that I had a mere 5% chance of surviving five years. He explained to me that the dreaded figure five also relates to another key statistic: the percentage of successful applications for research funding into GBM. This disease is so complex, so aggressive and so rare, that it is hard to attract substantial research funding.

It is especially gratifying that Jowell’s powerful legacy has already begun to be felt in the form of increased government funding. But she would be the first to agree this is not enough. There is another currency to tap: a goldmine of patient-generated data that is massively under-collected and undervalued. At the heart of every GBM drama, as with any life-threatening disease, is a human being enduring symptoms – some good, many bad – resulting from the cancer and the treatments we take. Yet our relationship as patients with our disease is not consistently recorded or analysed. It can feel as if, from the perspective of the medical system, our experience is not worth understanding.

Tessa Jowell dies aged 70 – video obituary

As an example, I’ve been fortunate enough to be treated in New York with ground-breaking treatments that can be hard to come by in the UK, including electrotherapy and immunotherapy. These cost more than $ 30,000 a month, covered by insurance and the drug company’s compassionate use programme. But how the interaction between these therapies is actually affecting me is not recorded. This reflects a long-standing approach in medicine. The “objective” measures of disease progression, as evidenced by things like the size of my tumour, the results of my MRIs, are prized. The “subjective” measures of my experience – how I feel each day, my personal responses in terms of X or Y – are largely ignored.

Patients are active, wanting to share and swap notes. Desperate to know whether a change in diet, or a cocktail of supplements, or exercise, or mindset, can help them stay alive, they are busy on social media. Amid all this noise, doctors have little advice to give – “Should I adopt the ketogenic diet? Take medical marijuana? Fast twice a week?” – because none of these approaches have been, or could be, subject to the kind of clinical trial a new drug treatment undergoes.

But imagine if we could ask people to log how they’re feeling, and what steps they’re taking to manage their disease, every day. Imagine if we could then aggregate all that data and mine it for insights. Couldn’t we find some clues from patients’ unfiltered perspective that would supplement the clinical trials information?

Dr Ethan Basch, of the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of North Carolina, undertook some fascinating research last year. He found that if you ask someone with cancer to log their symptoms, the act of doing so, coupled with your clinician’s ability to adjust therapies in real time, can lead to an actual improvement in disease outcome. People lived longer.

I’ve channelled my own frustration with my diagnosis into creating OurBrainBank, a non-profit organisation designed to move glioblastoma from terminal to treatable, powered by patients. We recently launched our pilot app in the US. People with GBM can log their symptoms daily and their aggregated data will be available to any qualified GBM researcher worldwide, for free, subject to strict screening. People using the app report feeling more on top of their disease through daily monitoring; better able to make use of their meetings with their clinicians; and more hopeful that by sharing their personal data they can play an active role in making progress.

Tessa Jowell died during May, which happens to be brain tumour awareness month. Our colour is grey. It’s strangely apt. Because what we need to crack GBM is to use our grey cells to think creatively and empathetically – patient and doctor alike.

That’s the kind of approach she espoused. She put it the best: “I hope always my politics are the politics of aspiration, ambition, possibility and the future.”

Jessica Morris is a strategic communications consultant and the founder and chair of OurBrainBank

Like Tessa Jowell, I have a brain tumour. I hope her death inspires new research | Jessica Morris

Many people are grieving the untimely death of Tessa Jowell. She was an exceptional person. Tony Blair confirmed the impression she gave to those of us who only knew her from afar: “Tessa had passion, determination and simple human decency in greater measure than any person I have ever known.”

For me, her death is personal for another reason. We found ourselves in the same elite club.

Like Tessa Jowell, I was blindsided by a diagnosis of glioblastoma (GBM) in January 2016. I was walking in the hills in upstate New York (we live in the city) when a strange sensation made me stop. I opened my mouth to explain to my friends and found I couldn’t form any words. I slumped into unconsciousness, having a full-blown seizure.

Two days later I had brain surgery, and the terrible diagnosis came two weeks after that. Now, more than two years later, I am determined to do what I can to improve the outcomes for everyone like me living with this brutal disease. Jowell’s death gives me added impetus in the struggle to turn this monstrous disease around.

After I was diagnosed, I asked my neuro-oncologist why glioblastoma is so deadly; why the terrifying statistics suggested that I had a mere 5% chance of surviving five years. He explained to me that the dreaded figure five also relates to another key statistic: the percentage of successful applications for research funding into GBM. This disease is so complex, so aggressive and so rare, that it is hard to attract substantial research funding.

It is especially gratifying that Jowell’s powerful legacy has already begun to be felt in the form of increased government funding. But she would be the first to agree this is not enough. There is another currency to tap: a goldmine of patient-generated data that is massively under-collected and undervalued. At the heart of every GBM drama, as with any life-threatening disease, is a human being enduring symptoms – some good, many bad – resulting from the cancer and the treatments we take. Yet our relationship as patients with our disease is not consistently recorded or analysed. It can feel as if, from the perspective of the medical system, our experience is not worth understanding.

Tessa Jowell dies aged 70 – video obituary

As an example, I’ve been fortunate enough to be treated in New York with ground-breaking treatments that can be hard to come by in the UK, including electrotherapy and immunotherapy. These cost more than $ 30,000 a month, covered by insurance and the drug company’s compassionate use programme. But how the interaction between these therapies is actually affecting me is not recorded. This reflects a long-standing approach in medicine. The “objective” measures of disease progression, as evidenced by things like the size of my tumour, the results of my MRIs, are prized. The “subjective” measures of my experience – how I feel each day, my personal responses in terms of X or Y – are largely ignored.

Patients are active, wanting to share and swap notes. Desperate to know whether a change in diet, or a cocktail of supplements, or exercise, or mindset, can help them stay alive, they are busy on social media. Amid all this noise, doctors have little advice to give – “Should I adopt the ketogenic diet? Take medical marijuana? Fast twice a week?” – because none of these approaches have been, or could be, subject to the kind of clinical trial a new drug treatment undergoes.

But imagine if we could ask people to log how they’re feeling, and what steps they’re taking to manage their disease, every day. Imagine if we could then aggregate all that data and mine it for insights. Couldn’t we find some clues from patients’ unfiltered perspective that would supplement the clinical trials information?

Dr Ethan Basch, of the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of North Carolina, undertook some fascinating research last year. He found that if you ask someone with cancer to log their symptoms, the act of doing so, coupled with your clinician’s ability to adjust therapies in real time, can lead to an actual improvement in disease outcome. People lived longer.

I’ve channelled my own frustration with my diagnosis into creating OurBrainBank, a non-profit organisation designed to move glioblastoma from terminal to treatable, powered by patients. We recently launched our pilot app in the US. People with GBM can log their symptoms daily and their aggregated data will be available to any qualified GBM researcher worldwide, for free, subject to strict screening. People using the app report feeling more on top of their disease through daily monitoring; better able to make use of their meetings with their clinicians; and more hopeful that by sharing their personal data they can play an active role in making progress.

Tessa Jowell died during May, which happens to be brain tumour awareness month. Our colour is grey. It’s strangely apt. Because what we need to crack GBM is to use our grey cells to think creatively and empathetically – patient and doctor alike.

That’s the kind of approach she espoused. She put it the best: “I hope always my politics are the politics of aspiration, ambition, possibility and the future.”

Jessica Morris is a strategic communications consultant and the founder and chair of OurBrainBank

Like Tessa Jowell, I have a brain tumour. I hope her death inspires new research | Jessica Morris

Many people are grieving the untimely death of Tessa Jowell. She was an exceptional person. Tony Blair confirmed the impression she gave to those of us who only knew her from afar: “Tessa had passion, determination and simple human decency in greater measure than any person I have ever known.”

For me, her death is personal for another reason. We found ourselves in the same elite club.

Like Tessa Jowell, I was blindsided by a diagnosis of glioblastoma (GBM) in January 2016. I was walking in the hills in upstate New York (we live in the city) when a strange sensation made me stop. I opened my mouth to explain to my friends and found I couldn’t form any words. I slumped into unconsciousness, having a full-blown seizure.

Two days later I had brain surgery, and the terrible diagnosis came two weeks after that. Now, more than two years later, I am determined to do what I can to improve the outcomes for everyone like me living with this brutal disease. Jowell’s death gives me added impetus in the struggle to turn this monstrous disease around.

After I was diagnosed, I asked my neuro-oncologist why glioblastoma is so deadly; why the terrifying statistics suggested that I had a mere 5% chance of surviving five years. He explained to me that the dreaded figure five also relates to another key statistic: the percentage of successful applications for research funding into GBM. This disease is so complex, so aggressive and so rare, that it is hard to attract substantial research funding.

It is especially gratifying that Jowell’s powerful legacy has already begun to be felt in the form of increased government funding. But she would be the first to agree this is not enough. There is another currency to tap: a goldmine of patient-generated data that is massively under-collected and undervalued. At the heart of every GBM drama, as with any life-threatening disease, is a human being enduring symptoms – some good, many bad – resulting from the cancer and the treatments we take. Yet our relationship as patients with our disease is not consistently recorded or analysed. It can feel as if, from the perspective of the medical system, our experience is not worth understanding.

Tessa Jowell dies aged 70 – video obituary

As an example, I’ve been fortunate enough to be treated in New York with ground-breaking treatments that can be hard to come by in the UK, including electrotherapy and immunotherapy. These cost more than $ 30,000 a month, covered by insurance and the drug company’s compassionate use programme. But how the interaction between these therapies is actually affecting me is not recorded. This reflects a long-standing approach in medicine. The “objective” measures of disease progression, as evidenced by things like the size of my tumour, the results of my MRIs, are prized. The “subjective” measures of my experience – how I feel each day, my personal responses in terms of X or Y – are largely ignored.

Patients are active, wanting to share and swap notes. Desperate to know whether a change in diet, or a cocktail of supplements, or exercise, or mindset, can help them stay alive, they are busy on social media. Amid all this noise, doctors have little advice to give – “Should I adopt the ketogenic diet? Take medical marijuana? Fast twice a week?” – because none of these approaches have been, or could be, subject to the kind of clinical trial a new drug treatment undergoes.

But imagine if we could ask people to log how they’re feeling, and what steps they’re taking to manage their disease, every day. Imagine if we could then aggregate all that data and mine it for insights. Couldn’t we find some clues from patients’ unfiltered perspective that would supplement the clinical trials information?

Dr Ethan Basch, of the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of North Carolina, undertook some fascinating research last year. He found that if you ask someone with cancer to log their symptoms, the act of doing so, coupled with your clinician’s ability to adjust therapies in real time, can lead to an actual improvement in disease outcome. People lived longer.

I’ve channelled my own frustration with my diagnosis into creating OurBrainBank, a non-profit organisation designed to move glioblastoma from terminal to treatable, powered by patients. We recently launched our pilot app in the US. People with GBM can log their symptoms daily and their aggregated data will be available to any qualified GBM researcher worldwide, for free, subject to strict screening. People using the app report feeling more on top of their disease through daily monitoring; better able to make use of their meetings with their clinicians; and more hopeful that by sharing their personal data they can play an active role in making progress.

Tessa Jowell died during May, which happens to be brain tumour awareness month. Our colour is grey. It’s strangely apt. Because what we need to crack GBM is to use our grey cells to think creatively and empathetically – patient and doctor alike.

That’s the kind of approach she espoused. She put it the best: “I hope always my politics are the politics of aspiration, ambition, possibility and the future.”

Jessica Morris is a strategic communications consultant and the founder and chair of OurBrainBank

The ‘people politician’: Tessa Jowell obituary

Until the revelation of her brain tumour last September, Tessa Jowell, Lady Jowell, the former secretary of state for culture, media and sport, who has died aged 70, was best known outside Westminster as the minister for the Olympics in the run-up to the hugely successful London games in 2012. It was directly as a result of her enthusiasm and personal pressure on the then prime minister, Tony Blair, that the UK first mounted its bid and then subsequently won the competition to stage the event. As an MP in the House of Commons, Jowell was best known as the unfailing cheerleader for Blair’s leadership of New Labour: “The ultimate sensible loyalist”, as he described her in his memoirs.

After the unexpected death of John Smith in May 1994, Jowell was one of the first Labour MPs to assert Blair’s claim to inherit the Labour leadership. Her steadfast support thereafter was rewarded with her uninterrupted tenure of a seat on the party’s frontbench for the next 18 years. “She is a great person, Tessa, just a gem,” wrote Blair. “She represents the best of political loyalty, which at its best isn’t blind, but thoroughly considered.” She nonetheless spoke her mind to the prime minister, notably over the Olympics. She upbraided him for having doubts about making a bid: “Of course we may not win,” she told him, “but at least we will have had the courage to try.” She was also one of those close to him who persuaded him not to stand down in 2004. Although she later tried to deny it, Jowell did once say of Blair in an interview: “I would jump in front of a bus to save him.”

Tessa Jowell with Tony Blair in 2005


Tessa Jowell with Tony Blair in 2005. Photograph: Andrew Parsons/PA

Jowell had been elected to the Commons as MP for Dulwich (later Dulwich and West Norwood), in 1992, only two years before Blair’s election as leader, but she had previously acquired 15 years of political expertise as a Labour councillor. She had also made a number of important social and political connections, moving as she did in a circle of increasingly influential Labour supporters, many of whom shared her belief in the need for a party shakeup. It was this emphasis on a new-look, modern Labour party that coalesced around Blair’s bid for the leadership and Jowell, who knew how to handle the media as well as the woman in the street, was in the vanguard.

Blair recognised both her competence and the useful potential of her likeable personality. She exuded cheerfulness and gave even those she had only just met the sense of being one of her old friends. In consequence, in the course of her career she was handed some of the most testing social policy briefs in government, including dealing with broadcasting policy, licensing hours, gambling laws, equality legislation, tobacco advertising, the nation’s diet and the Queen’s golden jubilee.

Her reputation as a “people politician” with the common touch led to her being given ministerial responsibility for helping the families of British victims of the 2001 attacks on the New York World Trade Center and in 2005 for those caught up in the July terrorist attacks on the London transport system.

Her apparent straightforwardness – which disguised a sharp respect for political pragmatism – her genuine commitment to social justice and, above all, her demonstrated reliability to stick to the New Labour message in all circumstances, guaranteed her swift early promotion. She became known in the media, partly because of her government responsibilities for a range of domestic issues, as New Labour’s very own nanny. Unusually, in 1996 she had been confirmed as an adult into the Church of England. Her close friendships led her to become a godmother to one of Alastair Campbell and Fiona Millar’s children and for Peter Mandelson to be godfather to one of hers.

Tessa Jowell holds her Dame Commander insignia after it was presented to her by the Prince of Wales at Buckingham Palace in 2013


Tessa Jowell holds her Dame Commander insignia after it was presented to her by the Prince of Wales at Buckingham Palace in 2013. Photograph: WPA Pool/Getty Images

She did not escape controversy, but it didn’t happen because of her own lack of political skill. In the first instance she was embroiled in an early scandal of Blair’s new administration in 1997 when, as minister of state with responsibility for public health, she had to justify seeking to exempt Formula One motor racing from the proposed ban on tobacco advertising, having previously described herself as the “scourge” of the tobacco industry. It then emerged that the Formula One boss, Bernie Ecclestone, had made a donation of £1m to the Labour party’s recent election campaign and that Jowell’s husband, David Mills, had business links with one of the racing teams. There was no impropriety in the family connection, but Blair had to apologise for the government’s mishandling of the affair and promised to return the political donation from Ecclestone.

More personally embarrassing was the later revelation that her husband, a millionaire tax lawyer, had accepted a gift of £350,000 from the disgraced former Italian prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, in exchange for allegedly giving false testimony in two trials. The couple separated in 2006, a move suspected by some as designed to save Jowell’s cabinet job. Mills was given a four-and-a-half-year jail sentence by the Italian courts in 2009, against which he appealed, but the sentence was overturned for technical reasons in 2010. The couple were reconciled in 2012.

Tessa Jowell dies aged 70 – video obituary

Tessa was the oldest of three children of Kenneth Palmer, a doctor, and his wife, Rosemary Douglas, a radiologist and an artist. Tessa was born in London but the family moved to Aberdeen when she was five and she was educated at the city’s St Margaret’s school for girls and the University of Aberdeen, where she studied general arts, sociology and psychology. She then did a further degree in social administration at Edinburgh University before moving to London, working as a childcare officer in Lambeth and then qualifying as a psychiatric social worker at Goldsmiths College, University of London.

She worked at the Maudsley hospital from 1972 to 1974, then switched to the voluntary sector as assistant director of the mental health charity Mind until 1986. For the next four years she was director of a community care special action project in Birmingham. From 1990 until her election to parliament she worked for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and was a senior visiting fellow at the health and social care charity the King’s Fund.

She had joined the Labour party when she was 22, in 1969, jokingly attributing her interest in politics to her enthusiasm for the Stanley Kubrick film Spartacus. In 1971, she was elected to Camden council in London and within two years was chairing the social services committee. Later in her council career, from 1984 to 1986, she chaired the social services committee of the powerful Association of Metropolitan Authorities.

Jowell campaigning for Labour in the Ilford North byelection in 1978


Jowell campaigning for Labour in the Ilford North byelection in 1978. Photograph: M. Fresco/Getty Images

In 1970, she had married the social scientist Roger Jowell, who was also a Camden councillor, but she then met and fell in love with Mills. They married in 1979.

Tessa Jowell was picked as the Labour candidate in Ilford North to defend the party’s very narrow majority in what proved to be a key byelection in 1978, caused by the death of the sitting MP. It was a bitterly contested election, fought in difficult circumstances and the revelation of her domestic circumstances in the course of the campaign was an added and unwelcome distraction. Vivian Bendall won the seat for the Conservatives and the following year increased his majority over Jowell in the general election. During the 1980s, Jowell failed to secure selection as the Labour candidate for Bermondsey and for Hampstead and Highgate, but was selected for Dulwich in 1990.

Jowell’s professional life had provided her with a considerable record of hands-on experience, which she would later bring to her government jobs at the Department of Health from 1997 to 1999 and, from 1999 to 2001, as minister of state with responsibility for women and as minister for employment, welfare to work and equal opportunities.

She introduced health targets, maternity and paternity leave and the Sure Start initiative for improved childcare. “I moved from social care to government because it’s only in government that you can provide the big solutions,” she explained once. She was promoted to the cabinet as culture secretary in 2001, with the Olympics added as a special responsibility in 2005. Her period in the department was marked by much public debate about the future of television, about digital broadcasting and the structure and financing of the BBC. She oversaw the establishment of the media regulator Ofcom. During the phone-hacking scandal, which led to the closure of the News of the World, she revealed that her own phone had been hacked 28 times in early 2006.

When Gordon Brown succeeded Blair as prime minister in 2007, he kept Jowell on as Olympics minister, but she was demoted from the cabinet. She was appointed minister of state and given the title paymaster general, but the trajectory of her career path had changed. In Labour’s last year in office before the 2010 election she was given the job of minister for London and she retained her responsibility for both the Olympics and for London until 2012.

She stood down as an MP in the 2015 general election in order to campaign to win selection as Labour’s candidate for the post of London Mayor, a post for which she fought with characteristic energy and for which she was early favourite. She lost to Sadiq Khan, then MP for Tooting, who proposed a more radical agenda and comfortably won the selection in all three categories of the party’s electoral college.

Jowell was made a member of the Privy Council in 1998 and a dame in 2012. She joined the House of Lords in 2015 and took up a number of academic appointments, including that of a senior fellow at the Institute of Government and a further senior fellowship at the School of Public Health at Harvard University.

Jowell announced she had brain cancer last September and later vowed to find ways to make “better, longer lives for people with cancer”.

In January, she received a standing ovation – breaking parliamentary protocol – in the House of Lords after giving a moving speech about her cancer in which she urged peers to support an international initiative to share resources, research and new treatments.

Jowell’s speech led to a meeting in February with ministers, cancer campaigners and charities where some of her objectives such as measuring improvements in the quality of life lived with cancer were agreed.

And she was hailed as an inspiration during a debate in parliament, when she came to the House of Commons to meet the health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, and his Labour shadow, Jon Ashworth, in her campaign for better support and access and more research to clinical trials for brain cancer patients.

She is survived by her husband, their two children, Jessie and Matthew, and three step-daughters.

Tessa Jane Helen Douglas Jowell, Lady Jowell, politician, born 17 September 1947; died 12 May 2018

The ‘people politician’: Tessa Jowell obituary

Until the revelation of her brain tumour last September, Tessa Jowell, Lady Jowell, the former secretary of state for culture, media and sport, who has died aged 70, was best known outside Westminster as the minister for the Olympics in the run-up to the hugely successful London games in 2012. It was directly as a result of her enthusiasm and personal pressure on the then prime minister, Tony Blair, that the UK first mounted its bid and then subsequently won the competition to stage the event. As an MP in the House of Commons, Jowell was best known as the unfailing cheerleader for Blair’s leadership of New Labour: “The ultimate sensible loyalist”, as he described her in his memoirs.

After the unexpected death of John Smith in May 1994, Jowell was one of the first Labour MPs to assert Blair’s claim to inherit the Labour leadership. Her steadfast support thereafter was rewarded with her uninterrupted tenure of a seat on the party’s frontbench for the next 18 years. “She is a great person, Tessa, just a gem,” wrote Blair. “She represents the best of political loyalty, which at its best isn’t blind, but thoroughly considered.” She nonetheless spoke her mind to the prime minister, notably over the Olympics. She upbraided him for having doubts about making a bid: “Of course we may not win,” she told him, “but at least we will have had the courage to try.” She was also one of those close to him who persuaded him not to stand down in 2004. Although she later tried to deny it, Jowell did once say of Blair in an interview: “I would jump in front of a bus to save him.”

Tessa Jowell with Tony Blair in 2005


Tessa Jowell with Tony Blair in 2005. Photograph: Andrew Parsons/PA

Jowell had been elected to the Commons as MP for Dulwich (later Dulwich and West Norwood), in 1992, only two years before Blair’s election as leader, but she had previously acquired 15 years of political expertise as a Labour councillor. She had also made a number of important social and political connections, moving as she did in a circle of increasingly influential Labour supporters, many of whom shared her belief in the need for a party shakeup. It was this emphasis on a new-look, modern Labour party that coalesced around Blair’s bid for the leadership and Jowell, who knew how to handle the media as well as the woman in the street, was in the vanguard.

Blair recognised both her competence and the useful potential of her likeable personality. She exuded cheerfulness and gave even those she had only just met the sense of being one of her old friends. In consequence, in the course of her career she was handed some of the most testing social policy briefs in government, including dealing with broadcasting policy, licensing hours, gambling laws, equality legislation, tobacco advertising, the nation’s diet and the Queen’s golden jubilee.

Her reputation as a “people politician” with the common touch led to her being given ministerial responsibility for helping the families of British victims of the 2001 attacks on the New York World Trade Center and in 2005 for those caught up in the July terrorist attacks on the London transport system.

Her apparent straightforwardness – which disguised a sharp respect for political pragmatism – her genuine commitment to social justice and, above all, her demonstrated reliability to stick to the New Labour message in all circumstances, guaranteed her swift early promotion. She became known in the media, partly because of her government responsibilities for a range of domestic issues, as New Labour’s very own nanny. Unusually, in 1996 she had been confirmed as an adult into the Church of England. Her close friendships led her to become a godmother to one of Alastair Campbell and Fiona Millar’s children and for Peter Mandelson to be godfather to one of hers.

Tessa Jowell holds her Dame Commander insignia after it was presented to her by the Prince of Wales at Buckingham Palace in 2013


Tessa Jowell holds her Dame Commander insignia after it was presented to her by the Prince of Wales at Buckingham Palace in 2013. Photograph: WPA Pool/Getty Images

She did not escape controversy, but it didn’t happen because of her own lack of political skill. In the first instance she was embroiled in an early scandal of Blair’s new administration in 1997 when, as minister of state with responsibility for public health, she had to justify seeking to exempt Formula One motor racing from the proposed ban on tobacco advertising, having previously described herself as the “scourge” of the tobacco industry. It then emerged that the Formula One boss, Bernie Ecclestone, had made a donation of £1m to the Labour party’s recent election campaign and that Jowell’s husband, David Mills, had business links with one of the racing teams. There was no impropriety in the family connection, but Blair had to apologise for the government’s mishandling of the affair and promised to return the political donation from Ecclestone.

More personally embarrassing was the later revelation that her husband, a millionaire tax lawyer, had accepted a gift of £350,000 from the disgraced former Italian prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, in exchange for allegedly giving false testimony in two trials. The couple separated in 2006, a move suspected by some as designed to save Jowell’s cabinet job. Mills was given a four-and-a-half-year jail sentence by the Italian courts in 2009, against which he appealed, but the sentence was overturned for technical reasons in 2010. The couple were reconciled in 2012.

Tessa Jowell dies aged 70 – video obituary

Tessa was the oldest of three children of Kenneth Palmer, a doctor, and his wife, Rosemary Douglas, a radiologist and an artist. Tessa was born in London but the family moved to Aberdeen when she was five and she was educated at the city’s St Margaret’s school for girls and the University of Aberdeen, where she studied general arts, sociology and psychology. She then did a further degree in social administration at Edinburgh University before moving to London, working as a childcare officer in Lambeth and then qualifying as a psychiatric social worker at Goldsmiths College, University of London.

She worked at the Maudsley hospital from 1972 to 1974, then switched to the voluntary sector as assistant director of the mental health charity Mind until 1986. For the next four years she was director of a community care special action project in Birmingham. From 1990 until her election to parliament she worked for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and was a senior visiting fellow at the health and social care charity the King’s Fund.

She had joined the Labour party when she was 22, in 1969, jokingly attributing her interest in politics to her enthusiasm for the Stanley Kubrick film Spartacus. In 1971, she was elected to Camden council in London and within two years was chairing the social services committee. Later in her council career, from 1984 to 1986, she chaired the social services committee of the powerful Association of Metropolitan Authorities.

Jowell campaigning for Labour in the Ilford North byelection in 1978


Jowell campaigning for Labour in the Ilford North byelection in 1978. Photograph: M. Fresco/Getty Images

In 1970, she had married the social scientist Roger Jowell, who was also a Camden councillor, but she then met and fell in love with Mills. They married in 1979.

Tessa Jowell was picked as the Labour candidate in Ilford North to defend the party’s very narrow majority in what proved to be a key byelection in 1978, caused by the death of the sitting MP. It was a bitterly contested election, fought in difficult circumstances and the revelation of her domestic circumstances in the course of the campaign was an added and unwelcome distraction. Vivian Bendall won the seat for the Conservatives and the following year increased his majority over Jowell in the general election. During the 1980s, Jowell failed to secure selection as the Labour candidate for Bermondsey and for Hampstead and Highgate, but was selected for Dulwich in 1990.

Jowell’s professional life had provided her with a considerable record of hands-on experience, which she would later bring to her government jobs at the Department of Health from 1997 to 1999 and, from 1999 to 2001, as minister of state with responsibility for women and as minister for employment, welfare to work and equal opportunities.

She introduced health targets, maternity and paternity leave and the Sure Start initiative for improved childcare. “I moved from social care to government because it’s only in government that you can provide the big solutions,” she explained once. She was promoted to the cabinet as culture secretary in 2001, with the Olympics added as a special responsibility in 2005. Her period in the department was marked by much public debate about the future of television, about digital broadcasting and the structure and financing of the BBC. She oversaw the establishment of the media regulator Ofcom. During the phone-hacking scandal, which led to the closure of the News of the World, she revealed that her own phone had been hacked 28 times in early 2006.

When Gordon Brown succeeded Blair as prime minister in 2007, he kept Jowell on as Olympics minister, but she was demoted from the cabinet. She was appointed minister of state and given the title paymaster general, but the trajectory of her career path had changed. In Labour’s last year in office before the 2010 election she was given the job of minister for London and she retained her responsibility for both the Olympics and for London until 2012.

She stood down as an MP in the 2015 general election in order to campaign to win selection as Labour’s candidate for the post of London Mayor, a post for which she fought with characteristic energy and for which she was early favourite. She lost to Sadiq Khan, then MP for Tooting, who proposed a more radical agenda and comfortably won the selection in all three categories of the party’s electoral college.

Jowell was made a member of the Privy Council in 1998 and a dame in 2012. She joined the House of Lords in 2015 and took up a number of academic appointments, including that of a senior fellow at the Institute of Government and a further senior fellowship at the School of Public Health at Harvard University.

Jowell announced she had brain cancer last September and later vowed to find ways to make “better, longer lives for people with cancer”.

In January, she received a standing ovation – breaking parliamentary protocol – in the House of Lords after giving a moving speech about her cancer in which she urged peers to support an international initiative to share resources, research and new treatments.

Jowell’s speech led to a meeting in February with ministers, cancer campaigners and charities where some of her objectives such as measuring improvements in the quality of life lived with cancer were agreed.

And she was hailed as an inspiration during a debate in parliament, when she came to the House of Commons to meet the health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, and his Labour shadow, Jon Ashworth, in her campaign for better support and access and more research to clinical trials for brain cancer patients.

She is survived by her husband, their two children, Jessie and Matthew, and three step-daughters.

Tessa Jane Helen Douglas Jowell, Lady Jowell, politician, born 17 September 1947; died 12 May 2018

The ‘people politician’: Tessa Jowell obituary

Until the revelation of her brain tumour last September, Tessa Jowell, Lady Jowell, the former secretary of state for culture, media and sport, who has died aged 70, was best known outside Westminster as the minister for the Olympics in the run-up to the hugely successful London games in 2012. It was directly as a result of her enthusiasm and personal pressure on the then prime minister, Tony Blair, that the UK first mounted its bid and then subsequently won the competition to stage the event. As an MP in the House of Commons, Jowell was best known as the unfailing cheerleader for Blair’s leadership of New Labour: “The ultimate sensible loyalist”, as he described her in his memoirs.

After the unexpected death of John Smith in May 1994, Jowell was one of the first Labour MPs to assert Blair’s claim to inherit the Labour leadership. Her steadfast support thereafter was rewarded with her uninterrupted tenure of a seat on the party’s frontbench for the next 18 years. “She is a great person, Tessa, just a gem,” wrote Blair. “She represents the best of political loyalty, which at its best isn’t blind, but thoroughly considered.” She nonetheless spoke her mind to the prime minister, notably over the Olympics. She upbraided him for having doubts about making a bid: “Of course we may not win,” she told him, “but at least we will have had the courage to try.” She was also one of those close to him who persuaded him not to stand down in 2004. Although she later tried to deny it, Jowell did once say of Blair in an interview: “I would jump in front of a bus to save him.”

Tessa Jowell with Tony Blair in 2005


Tessa Jowell with Tony Blair in 2005. Photograph: Andrew Parsons/PA

Jowell had been elected to the Commons as MP for Dulwich (later Dulwich and West Norwood), in 1992, only two years before Blair’s election as leader, but she had previously acquired 15 years of political expertise as a Labour councillor. She had also made a number of important social and political connections, moving as she did in a circle of increasingly influential Labour supporters, many of whom shared her belief in the need for a party shakeup. It was this emphasis on a new-look, modern Labour party that coalesced around Blair’s bid for the leadership and Jowell, who knew how to handle the media as well as the woman in the street, was in the vanguard.

Blair recognised both her competence and the useful potential of her likeable personality. She exuded cheerfulness and gave even those she had only just met the sense of being one of her old friends. In consequence, in the course of her career she was handed some of the most testing social policy briefs in government, including dealing with broadcasting policy, licensing hours, gambling laws, equality legislation, tobacco advertising, the nation’s diet and the Queen’s golden jubilee.

Her reputation as a “people politician” with the common touch led to her being given ministerial responsibility for helping the families of British victims of the 2001 attacks on the New York World Trade Centre and in 2007 for those caught up in the July terrorist attacks on the London transport system.

Her apparent straightforwardness – which disguised a sharp respect for political pragmatism – her genuine commitment to social justice and, above all, her demonstrated reliability to stick to the New Labour message in all circumstances, guaranteed her swift early promotion. She became known in the media, partly because of her government responsibilities for a range of domestic issues, as New Labour’s very own nanny. Unusually, in 1996 she had been confirmed as an adult into the Church of England. Her close friendships led her to become a godmother to one of Alastair Campbell and Fiona Millar’s children and for Peter Mandelson to be godfather to one of hers.

Tessa Jowell holds her Dame Commander insignia after it was presented to her by the Prince of Wales at Buckingham Palace in 2013


Tessa Jowell holds her Dame Commander insignia after it was presented to her by the Prince of Wales at Buckingham Palace in 2013. Photograph: WPA Pool/Getty Images

She did not escape controversy, but it didn’t happen because of her own lack of political skill. In the first instance she was embroiled in an early scandal of Blair’s new administration in 1997 when, as minister of state with responsibility for public health, she had to justify seeking to exempt Formula One motor racing from the proposed ban on tobacco advertising, having previously described herself as the “scourge” of the tobacco industry. It then emerged that the Formula One boss, Bernie Ecclestone, had made a donation of £1m to the Labour party’s recent election campaign and that Jowell’s husband, David Mills, had business links with one of the racing teams. There was no impropriety in the family connection, but Blair had to apologise for the government’s mishandling of the affair and promised to return the political donation from Ecclestone.

More personally embarrassing was the later revelation that her husband, a millionaire tax lawyer, had accepted a gift of £350,000 from the disgraced former Italian prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, in exchange for allegedly giving false testimony in two trials. The couple separated in 2006, a move suspected by some as designed to save Jowell’s cabinet job. Mills was given a four-and-a-half-year jail sentence by the Italian courts in 2009, against which he appealed, but the sentence was overturned for technical reasons in 2010. The couple were reconciled in 2012.

Tessa was the oldest of three children of Kenneth Palmer, a doctor, and his wife, Rosemary Douglas, a radiologist and an artist. Tessa was born in London but the family moved to Aberdeen when she was five and she was educated at the city’s St Margaret’s school for girls and the University of Aberdeen, where she studied general arts, sociology and psychology. She then did a further degree in social administration at Edinburgh University before moving to London, working as a childcare officer in Lambeth and then qualifying as a psychiatric social worker at Goldsmiths College, University of London.

She worked at the Maudsley hospital from 1972 to 1974, then switched to the voluntary sector as assistant director of the mental health charity Mind until 1986. For the next four years she was director of a community care special action project in Birmingham. From 1990 until her election to parliament she worked for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and was a senior visiting fellow at the health and social care charity the King’s Fund.

She had joined the Labour party when she was 22, in 1969, jokingly attributing her interest in politics to her enthusiasm for the Stanley Kubrick film Spartacus. In 1971, she was elected to Camden council in London and within two years was chairing the social services committee. Later in her council career, from 1984 to 1986, she chaired the social services committee of the powerful Association of Metropolitan Authorities.

Jowell campaigning for Labour in the Ilford North byelection in 1978


Jowell campaigning for Labour in the Ilford North byelection in 1978. Photograph: M. Fresco/Getty Images

In 1970, she had married the social scientist Roger Jowell, who was also a Camden councillor, but she then met and fell in love with Mills. They married in 1979.

Tessa Jowell was picked as the Labour candidate in Ilford North to defend the party’s very narrow majority in what proved to be a key byelection in 1978, caused by the death of the sitting MP. It was a bitterly contested election, fought in difficult circumstances and the revelation of her domestic circumstances in the course of the campaign was an added and unwelcome distraction. Vivian Bendall won the seat for the Conservatives and the following year increased his majority over Jowell in the general election. During the 1980s, Jowell failed to secure selection as the Labour candidate for Bermondsey and for Hampstead and Highgate, but was selected for Dulwich in 1990.

Jowell’s professional life had provided her with a considerable record of hands-on experience, which she would later bring to her government jobs at the Department of Health from 1997 to 1999 and, from 1999 to 2001, as minister of state with responsibility for women and as minister for employment, welfare to work and equal opportunities.

She introduced health targets, maternity and paternity leave and the Sure Start initiative for improved childcare. “I moved from social care to government because it’s only in government that you can provide the big solutions,” she explained once. She was promoted to the cabinet as culture secretary in 2001, with the Olympics added as a special responsibility in 2005. Her period in the department was marked by much public debate about the future of television, about digital broadcasting and the structure and financing of the BBC. She oversaw the establishment of the media regulator Ofcom. During the phone-hacking scandal, which led to the closure of the News of the World, she revealed that her own phone had been hacked 28 times in early 2006.

When Gordon Brown succeeded Blair as prime minister in 2007, he kept Jowell on as Olympics minister, but she was demoted from the cabinet. She was appointed minister of state and given the title paymaster general, but the trajectory of her career path had changed. In Labour’s last year in office before the 2010 election she was given the job of minister for London and she retained her responsibility for both the Olympics and for London until 2012.

She stood down as an MP in the 2015 general election in order to campaign to win selection as Labour’s candidate for the post of London Mayor, a post for which she fought with characteristic energy and for which she was early favourite. She lost to Sadiq Khan, then MP for Tooting, who proposed a more radical agenda and comfortably won the selection in all three categories of the party’s electoral college.

Jowell was made a member of the Privy Council in 1998 and a dame in 2012. She joined the House of Lords in 2015 and took up a number of academic appointments, including that of a senior fellow at the Institute of Government and a further senior fellowship at the School of Public Health at Harvard University.

Jowell announced she had brain cancer last September and later vowed to find ways to make “better, longer lives for people with cancer”.

In January, she received a standing ovation – breaking parliamentary protocol – in the House of Lords after giving a moving speech about her cancer in which she urged peers to support an international initiative to share resources, research and new treatments.

Jowell’s speech led to a meeting in February with ministers, cancer campaigners and charities where some of her objectives such as measuring improvements in the quality of life lived with cancer were agreed.

And she was hailed as an inspiration during a debate in parliament, when she came to the House of Commons to meet the health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, and his Labour shadow, Jon Ashworth, in her campaign for better support and access and more research to clinical trials for brain cancer patients.

She is survived by her husband, their two children, Jessie and Matthew, and three step-daughters.

Tessa Jane Helen Douglas Jowell, Lady Jowell, politician, born 17 September 1947; died 12 May 2018

Tessa Jowell hailed as an inspiration during MPs’ cancer debate

Tessa Jowell, the former Labour minister who helped bring the Olympics to London, has been praised by MPs across the parties as an inspiration.

One MP who worked with her on the Games, Sarah Jones, described her on Thursday as “a woman who walked through walls,” first to win the Olympics for London and now to improve care and treatment of patients with brain cancer.

Lady Jowell, who was diagnosed in May last year with a high-grade brain tumour, is now very seriously ill. But she had come into the House of Commons to meet the health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, and his Labour opposite number, Jon Ashworth, to continue her campaign for better support, more research and better access to clinical trials for brain cancer patients.

Tessa Jowell: former Labour MP delivers moving speech on brain cancer diagnosis – video

Many speakers praised Jowell’s own speech in the Lords in January. James Brokenshire, the former Northern Ireland secretary who resigned for cancer treatment early this year, said he listened to it while he was recovering from surgery to remove a tumour from his lung.

“What Tessa’s speech did was to focus on the human condition – what gives it purpose – and the overriding power of human kindness, compassion and love.”

Jones said Jowell’s speech talked of hope. “Hope for cancer patients across the world. That the revolution we need is close at hand. Hope that we can live well together with cancer, for longer, and not just die of it.”

Brain tumours are the biggest cancer killer of children and adults under the age of 40 in the UK, and across the population reduce life expectancy by, on average, 20 years. That is the highest of any cancer.

More than half of the 11,000 people diagnosed with a high-grade brain tumour will die within one year and less than one in five survive for five years or more

Jowell’s speech led to a meeting in February with ministers, cancer campaigners and charities where some of her objectives such as measuring improvements in the quality of life lived with cancer were agreed. Work is under way to improve access to data and analysis, and to improve diagnosis.

The meeting coincided with an announcement of £45m of research funding into brain tumours supported by Cancer Research UK and the Department of Health.

Steve Reed, the Labour and Co-operative MP for Croydon who knew Jowell as a councillor in south London said she had always been a fighter. “Now she’s in the fight of her life. But how typical that she’s turned it into a fight to allow everyone to live well, to live better and to live longer,” he said.

Tessa Jowell is right about cancer treatment: Britain must do better | Christina Patterson

On 24 May last year, Tessa Jowell found she could not speak. Two days later, she was diagnosed with a brain tumour. Two weeks after that, the tumour was cut out. Six months on, she can’t say she was cured, but she sure as hell could speak this week.

“I don’t think I immediately leapt to the inevitability of cancer,” she told Nick Robinson on the Today programme on Wednesday. “To begin with, I thought I would have this tumour, that it would be operated on and that would be it.” That, it turned out, was not it. Now her life, she said, was “affected” by her tumour. “How do I know,” she asked, “how long it’s going to last.”

She was talking to Nick Robinson about the speech she was going to give to the House of Lords. She would, she said, be talking about the importance of adaptive trials – trials that allow you to try more than one treatment. If one wasn’t working, she said, you should be free to try a different one, even if it hadn’t yet been fully tried and tested. That, she explained, was how you got the “pace of change”. It was a risk that patients should be free to take, because risks look different when time is like a ticking clock that’s about to wind down.


Public money has to be geared towards what has been tested to save us from snake oil and expensive false hope

When she finished giving that speech on Thursday, every single person in that chamber leapt to their feet. The standing ovation lasted for a full minute. Doreen Lawrence was among the people seen wiping away a tear. Doreen Lawrence, whose son was slaughtered by thugs at the age of 18.

At the end of her speech, Tessa Jowell quoted the poet Seamus Heaney. “Noli timere, he said in a text to his beloved wife, Marie – the last words of a man who won a Nobel prize for his words. ‘Do not be afraid.’” Tessa Jowell’s blue eyes blazed as she repeated his words. “I am not,” she said, “afraid.”

She didn’t want the room’s pity. She didn’t even want the room’s respect, though it certainly makes a nice change to get it when you’ve spent most of your professional life as a politician. What she wanted was more help for other people with cancer: more shared knowledge, faster diagnosis, wider access to experimental treatments, better survival rates (we currently have the worst in western Europe) and for us all to be part of a “human-sized picture”, where the “community of love” created by patients was mirrored in the NHS.

You couldn’t argue with any of it. Well, perhaps you could argue about the experimental treatments. This is a difficult area, as we all know from the tragic case last summer of Charlie Gard. Public money has to be geared towards what has been tested to save us from snake oil and expensive false hope. But the point was not the technicalities. This was not a policy speech. It was a cry from the heart to all of us for more kindness, more humanity and more compassion. It was a cry from a woman who embodies the qualities she would like us all to seek.

In every life, there are moments of clarity. For those of us who have had cancer, that clarity sometimes comes sooner than we think. Sometimes, as treatments work and the years pass, it fades. Sometimes, you can almost have nostalgia for the piercing intensity of that time before it fades. When I was recovering from cancer for the second time, and was afraid that I would die alone, I learned how much I was loved. I also learned that nothing is more precious.

Being brave, said the poet Philip Larkin in his poem Aubade, “lets no one off the grave”. We are all going to die, and about half of us will get cancer first. “In the end,” said Jowell, “what gives a life meaning is not only how it is loved, but how it draws to a close.” Well, Amen to that.

Christina Patterson is a writer, broadcaster and columnist

Tessa Jowell calls for global cooperation to help cancer patients

Labour peer given standing ovation for moving speech in House of Lords about her brain cancer

Tessa Jowell has received a standing ovation in the House of Lords for a moving speech about her brain cancer in which she urged peers to support an international initiative to share resources, research and new treatments.

The former Labour culture secretary, who is seriously ill with a high-grade brain tumour, spoke to a packed house about the importance of “a community of love” for people suffering from cancer.

Jowell argued that health systems around the world must do more to cooperate with each other through the Eliminate Cancer Initiative, an organisation which links patients and doctors around the world through a clinical trials network, and is also building a global database to help improve research and patient care.

Peers broke parliamentary protocol after the speech to give the Labour peer a long standing ovation.

“For what would every cancer patient want? To know that the best, the latest science was being used – wherever in the world it was developed, whoever began it,” she told peers.

“What else do they want? They need to know they have a community around them – supporting and caring. Being practical and kind. For while doctors look at the big picture, we can all be a part of the human-sized picture.

“Seamus Heaney’s last words were Noli timere, do not be afraid. I am not afraid, but I am fearful that this new and important approach may be put into the ‘too difficult’ box.

“But I also have such great hope. So many cancer patients collaborate and support each other every day. They create that community of love and determination wherever they find each other.”

“All we now ask is that doctors and health systems learn to do the same. Learn from each other.”

Jowell, 70, told the House of Lords about her cancer diagnosis last year. On Wednesday, she told Radio 4 that she was travelling to Germany for cutting edge immunotherapy treatment.

“On 24 May last year, I was on my way to talk about new Sure Start projects in East London. I got into a taxi but 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, glioblastoma multiforme, or GBM,” she said.

“A week later the tumour was removed by an outstanding surgeon at the National hospital in Queen Square. I then had the standard treatment of radio- and chemotherapy. To put it in context, across the country, GBM strikes less than 3,000 people in England every year. It generally has a very poor prognosis.”

On Thursday she closed her call for greater medical cooperation by saying: “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 with cancer, not just be dying of it. All of us. For longer.”