Labour MP Dawn Butler taking time off to recover from breast cancer

The former minister expects to make a full recovery following surgery but said she initially feared for her life after her diagnosis.

28 March 2022

Former minister Dawn Butler said she thought she was going to die after being diagnosed with breast cancer following a routine mammogram.

The 52-year-old Labour MP said the cancer was caught early and she expects to make a full recovery.

“A mammogram saved my life,” she said. “Without a mammogram, my cancer wouldn’t have been discovered.”

Ms Butler said her initial reaction after being given her diagnosis was a fear that she was about to die.

“The first thing I thought was ‘I’m dying’… I’ve probably got 24 hours to live,” she told the BBC.

In a statement, the Brent Central MP said the breast cancer cells had been discovered at a very early stage so it is something she will “get through and over”. However, she needs to take time off to recover fully.

General Election 2019
Dawn Butler said the breast cancer cells had been discovered at a very early stage so it is something she will ‘get through and over’ (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

The MP went on: “Everything stood still as it does when you hear the dreaded C-word – it is a shock but an early diagnosis means that it is something that I will get through and over. The NHS has caught my cancer early, the operation was a complete success and I will make a full recovery.

“However, I now have to take time off work for my recovery. Everyone who knows me knows that I am a workaholic and I love what I do – but unless I listen to medical advice and recover well, I will not be able to give my best.

“I would like to thank Parliament, the Labour Party, local members and my team for their support throughout.”

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said the party will be supporting Ms Butler following the diagnosis.

He tweeted: “Dawn, your bravery, strength and determination shine through.

“I am sorry you’re going through this, but know that I, and the whole party, are behind you.”

Ms Butler concluded her statement by thanking the NHS and its “amazing workers”.

While receiving treatment at the Royal London Hospital she said she had seen “first-hand how the NHS is under enormous pressure”.

She added: “The Royal London seemed full, people were waiting on chairs in A&E for beds, the staff were exhausted in the NHS and many were suffering from PTSD.

“Covid-19 has taken a lot out of them.

“So many people have missed appointments (many through no fault of their own), results are delayed and operations postponed.

“If we are to show our appreciation for the amazing NHS workers and rebuild our health service then we need to properly invest in the NHS, both structurally and in the very people who keep it functioning.”

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