With an incredible 100,600 people supporting our petition to demand faster treatment for pancreatic cancer, on Monday 4th March we handed the petition in to the Government.
As we gathered with supporters outside the gates to Downing Street, emotions were mixed – we were proud to be here to show the strength of support for faster treatment, but it’s also a sad time as we remember those who aren’t here to witness it. And in their memory we Demand Faster Treatment for everyone diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
Just a few weeks ago Erika Vincent, who was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2018 and was the public face of the campaign, passed away. Erika had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and had spoken out about the lack of treatment she had been offered. Her story has been heard by thousands of people and has contributed to the swell of support the campaign received. At the petition hand-in we were glad to welcome Erika’s husband Jerry and her mother Hanne who were part of the group who hand-delivered the petition to No.10.
As we stood outside the gates to Downing Street, our Chief Executive, Diana Jupp, said a few words to highlight the appalling survival statistics for the disease and the urgent need for change – one in four people die within a month and seven out of ten people do not receive treatment. We have to change this and our chair of trustees, Lynne Walker, who has survived 10 years since being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, spoke about her determination to make long term survival the norm not the exception.
A small group of supporters were allowed to enter Downing Street, alongside Diana and the chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Pancreatic Cancer, Nic Dakin MP, to hand-deliver the petition to No.10.
As a charity we know that the campaign does not end now. We will build on the massive public support that the demand faster treatment petition has demonstrated across the UK by holding Government’s to account for improving treatments and outcomes for people with pancreatic cancer. As the least survivable cancer, the quickest killing cancer and one that is very hard to detect, we know that pancreatic cancer should be treated as a cancer emergency and needs dedicated attention. On the back of the campaign we have already started conversations with cancer policy teams in Westminster and Edinburgh and we will take out the message more widely in the coming weeks and months.
We now look forward to handing in the petition to the Cabinet Secretary for Health in Scotland with cross party support from MSPs (on Tuesday 5th March), in Wales (Thursday 7th March) and Northern Ireland (Monday 11th March) so watch this space for more updates.
Thank you for your support in demanding faster treatment. We took an important step in the campaign, and we will continue to lobby the government until we see real change.
Preth Rao, Head of Policy and Campaigns at Pancreatic Cancer UK
Read more about the Demand Faster Treatment for pancreatic cancer campaign.