The Labour MP and former cancer patient tells how her mission to change Britainâ€™s drinking culture is not a moral crusade â€“ itâ€™s about saving lives
After the elation of becoming an MP in May 2015, Thangam Debbonaire was still getting used to life at Westminster when she got the bad news. â€œI was diagnosed with breast cancer on 16 June 2015,â€� says the Labour MP for Bristol West, recalling the date with calm clarity. Days later she had to forsake her new home at parliament and begin undergoing the rigours of chemotherapy. She finally returned, in good health, in March 2016. â€œRosie Winterton, Labourâ€™s chief whip at the time, said: â€˜Come back when youâ€™ve finished treatment.â€™â€�
Determined to carry on as normally as possible, she set up her constituency office, hired staff and worked as much as she was able. â€œCasework was done, emails were answered and constituency visits were made when I was in my good weeks,â€� says Debbonaire. â€œOn a chemotherapy cycle the first weekâ€™s pretty awful. But on the second and third weeks I tended to do constituency work.â€� One of the emails she received then turned out to be fateful and life-changing.
People said that the smoking ban was nanny state nonsense. I said it tooâ€¦ but it has helped people to quit
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