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MP tells of daughter’s death from breast cancer during Commons debate

Karen Lee was comforted by colleagues during an emotional debate on cancer strategy.

An MP made an emotional Commons speech as she urged colleagues to join together to prevent any breast cancer deaths by 2050.

Karen Lee’s voiced cracked with emotion as she recalled an exchange with her daughter Lynsey Taylor, who died from breast cancer aged 35.

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Labour MP Karen Lee addresses the House of Commons during a debate on cancer strategy

Labour’s Ms Lee told the Commons: “I used to say to her ‘I’ve had so much of my life, more than you, I wish it could be me’.

“And she used to say ‘Mum, I wish it could be no-one’.

“I just think as parliamentarians we’ve got the power to influence this and change it.

“Maybe we can join together across this House and make Breast Cancer Now’s vision a reality, and that by 2050 nobody need die of breast cancer.”

Ms Lee was comforted by colleagues after her speech during a general debate on cancer strategy, with shadow health minister Sharon Hodgson seen dabbing her eyes.

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MPs comfort Labour's Karen Lee on the Opposition benches after her speech during a debate on cancer strategy

The Lincoln MP discussed cancer from the perspective of patients and raised the aspiration of Breast Cancer Now to ensure that no-one dies from breast cancer by 2050.

She earlier said: “One in eight women develop breast cancer in their lifetime and 80% survive for five years. Around 95% of women will survive one year – my daughter survived 13 months.

“But recent data shows that 11,500 women and 80 men in the UK still die from breast cancer.

“My Lynsey was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer in April 2010 and she died just 13 months later.

“She was a very bright girl, she had a degree in politics and a degree in social work and she worked with underprivileged children. She also had a husband and three small children – they were two, four and seven when she died.”

Ms Lee, an ambassador of the Breast Cancer Now charity, cited a report which raised concerns over staff shortages.

She added: “My daughter developed a brain tumour – that’s a common secondary of breast cancer – and she used to have to go for radiotherapy. It’s truly traumatic.

“She used to see flashing blue and white lights, she had to wear a mask and the really upsetting thing was that because of staff shortages she often had to be laid around on a trolley waiting for things.

“If you can imagine what it’s like laying on a hospital trolley when you’ve got cancer in your bone, it’s just so distressing. That’s the effect on patients of short-staffing.”

Tory Craig Tracey, who co-chairs the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Breast Cancer, earlier warned of the dangers of high breast density, saying it increases the risk of masking cancer in breast screening.

He told the Commons: “Mammography is the main method of national screening, and whilst considered the gold standard, evidence shows that it is not as effective for women with dense breasts.”

The North Warwickshire MP said tumours and dense tissue both show as white on a mammogram, meaning that “in 50% of cases, the cancer is missed”.

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