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Remembering Tessa Jowell, one year on

This weekend marks a year since Tessa Jowell died from a brain tumour

We know how deeply she is missed and we are thinking of her family and friends as they face an anniversary of the kind that so many in our community have had to endure.

No-one will forget the flood of tributes that were paid this time last year to the much-loved former Cabinet Minister, who showed such extraordinary courage in campaigning to bring about change for everyone diagnosed with a brain tumour.

Her death inspired even more determination to honour the promise she made, to ensure every single person with the disease has access to the best possible treatment and care.

In the last 12 months, we’ve continued our work towards that goal at the heart of the Tessa Jowell Brain Cancer Mission alongside Tessa’s daughter, Jess Mills, and a team of leading clinicians and campaigners.

We’ve celebrated some real achievements.

Shortly after Tessa’s death, the Government announced a doubling of its investment in research into brain tumours, from £20m to £40m.

It also pledged that 5-ALA – the ‘pink drink’ which makes brain tumour cells glow under fluorescent light – would be made available to every patient in England who could benefit from its use. The same commitment has since been made in Wales, which means it will be in use at neurosurgery centres throughout the UK.

The drink enables surgeons to remove more tumour tissue than they could otherwise and has been shown to improve survival.

We’ve put in place the foundations for our pioneering trial, the Tessa Jowell BRAIN MATRIX, which aims to increase dramatically the number of patients diagnosed with glioma who are offered access to innovative treatments following surgery.

The trial, which we’ve funded with a £2.8m investment, is due to begin recruiting patients later this year.

Of course there is much, much more to be done to reach our goals – to double brain tumour survival and halve the harm caused by the disease.

For example, as Tessa herself said, in her unforgettable final speech in the House of Lords, we must do more to pool the information that could unlock a cure.

We are working towards this with the creation of BRIAN, our Brain TumouR Information and Analysis Network, which enables people to share data about their brain tumour diagnosis, their treatment and their quality of life.

But the process of accessing data from other sources, including the NHS, is still too complex and often prohibitively expensive – a problem we are striving to resolve.

In this and in every way, with your continuing support, we’ll keep going further and faster in memory of Tessa – and for every one of our community whose life is touched forever by a brain tumour diagnosis.