The two co-sponsoring MPs, who both gave speeches at the event, have personal connections to sarcoma.
Lauren Phillips, 27, from Southeast London, was also asked to share her experiences at the event. Lauren’s dad Terry died of sarcoma in 2019, less than two months after his diagnosis. He was 47 years old.
‘My dad had been experiencing pain in his left knee and a lump that was increasing in size in late 2018. He went to various doctors and was told it was a torn tendon or a ball of blood trapped underneath the knee’ says Lauren.
‘By early 2019, he was struggling to walk and drive and was limping. It wasn’t getting better or going away. It wasn’t until March that a doctor referred him for a biopsy to rule things out. When the biopsy came back, he was told it was sarcoma. None of us had ever heard of it.’
Yesterday’s event was held to talk about the importance of early diagnosis, which gives anyone with sarcoma the best chance of survival.
Being diagnosed with any cancer is an isolating and lonely experience. This is particularly true for sarcoma patients, who have agonisingly long waits for a diagnosis of a cancer with limited treatment options.
The later that any cancer, including sarcoma, is diagnosed, the fewer the options for treatment and the higher the chance of treatments not working.
Two years ago, Sarcoma UK recommended how to improve the speed at which the disease is diagnosed in its ‘Delays Cost Lives’ report, of which both Jess Phillips MP and Lauren were contributors.
The charity is still committed to the recommendations set out in the report, and is calling for renewed action.
The event was attended by MPs from across the country, such as, Marion Fellows MP, Tonia Antoniazzi MP, Taiwo Owatemi MP, and Andrew Gwynne MP.
Members of Sarcoma UK’s Early Diagnosis Expert Steering Group and patients that contributed to the ‘Delays Cost Lives’ report also attended with representatives from Sarcoma UK including CEO Richard Davidson, and Policy & Public Affairs Manager, Bradley Price.
‘Despite 15 people in the UK being diagnosed with sarcoma every day, only 25% of the population know what sarcoma is, with even fewer people recognising its signs and symptoms,’ says Bradley.
‘Getting diagnosed as early as possible is key, so if you have any signs and symptoms, contact your GP.
‘The greater awareness we have of sarcoma, and the importance of early diagnosis, the more chance we have of being able to help people when it will really make a difference. Sarcoma UK is so grateful to Lauren for sharing her experiences at this event, and to Jess and Laura for hosting, to help boost public awareness of sarcoma and put early diagnosis on the agenda.’
‘When my dad was diagnosed, the doctor told him at the time that he could not give him a timeline on how long he might have left, as there was not enough research into sarcoma to know how things work’ says Lauren.
‘This isn’t good enough, and needs to change. I hope the MPs in attendance yesterday help us by doing all they can to help Sarcoma UK raise funding and awareness of this disease, so that more people don’t lose their lives as my dad did.’
‘I hope that by sharing my story, this will help people understand more about sarcoma and how quickly things can progress.’
Sarcoma UK have set out how we intend to combat the problem at hand, such as targeted education programmes for medical professionals, as well as resources for patients and their families. Details can be found via the charity’s dedicated early diagnosis website page.