I’m Jess Mills, ACT For Cancer co-founder and CEO.
At 6.45pm on Wednesday 24th May 2017, Dame Tessa Jowell - my Mum and centre of our family’s universe - suffered two major seizures. With no previous symptoms at all, the subsequent diagnosis was a Grade 4 Glioblastoma, the most lethal of all cancers. We were told she had 14 months to live. The magic of our ordinary life had ruptured forever. Hers, like the majority of new cancer diagnoses, was classed as untreatable. This meant the standard chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgery treatment options available through the NHS could only extend her life by a year, if we were lucky. We were cast off into a landscape that felt impossibly dark and completely hopeless. This is an experience that thousands of newly diagnosed patients and families face every day.
However we were already at the fortunate end of an awful spectrum. After 50 years in public service, as the news of Mum’s diagnosis became known to friends and colleagues, we were inundated with offers of help.
We soon found ourselves under the guidance of some of the leading minds in neuro-oncology, and under their guidance, a galaxy of other treatment options at the cutting edge of innovation were revealed. We were told right away that the key to enabling better outcomes for Mum was the personalisation of her treatment and care. So, her tumour was genomicallysequenced and then a highly ‘personalised’ programme was recommended that could be ‘adapted’ depending on how she was responding. Out of the darkness, we had found hope.
…But what about the millions of famillies going through a similar thing but without this extraordinary support?
We founded ACT for Cancer to deliver Mum’s legacy, to make sure that the same level of ambition, excellence, innovation and hope that our family experienced will be delivered to all currently ‘untreatable’ cancer patients through the NHS, giving Every Chance to Everyone.
Jess Mills CEO ACT For Cancer