Mary Allison: Beating breast cancer would be incredible legacy

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon helped launch Breast Cancer Nows #2050 Challenge. Picture: Contributed

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon helped launch Breast Cancer Nows #2050 Challenge. Picture: Contributed

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Nicola Sturgeon and Theresa May have work to do, writes Mary Allison

‘Politics aside – I hope girls everywhere look at this photograph and believe nothing should be off limits for them.”

Many of you will have seen this tweet. It was a powerful image of First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Prime Minister Theresa May on the steps of Bute House earlier this month. For me, it showed that despite political differences, we share a desire to leave a legacy for those who will come after us.

As we’ve seen in Scotland, breast cancer has the power to unite all of us. Earlier this year, we asked all of our MSPs to put aside their political differences and help stop women dying from breast cancer by 2050.

All of Scotland’s political party leaders committed to playing their part in stopping breast cancer deaths and our 2050 ambition is a key part of the Scottish Government’s cancer strategy. For me, this underlines the fact that, when faced with life or death, we can stand together, united in our belief that we can make a difference.

We believe that now is the time for the new Prime Minister to take inspiration from what is happening north of the Border in tackling breast cancer. Given that breast cancer affects one in eight women, and it remains the most common cancer in the UK with more than 50,000 women living with the disease, breast cancer is far from a done deal.

Despite the uncertainties of Brexit, and all of the debate this brings with it, one thing is certain – breast cancer will continue to take the lives of the women we love. But, at Breast Cancer Now we believe that, by 2050, breast cancer will have taken its last life if we all act now.

Scotland is taking action, and working towards its bold commitment. It’s now up to the UK Government to engage with its neighbour and use this new leadership as an opportunity to express its shared commitment to end deaths from breast cancer by 2050.

I hope that the next generation will look back on that picture of Nicola Sturgeon and Theresa May and recognise them as the women who shared the bold ambition to end deaths from breast cancer by 2050.

That would indeed be an incredible and important political legacy.

• Mary Allison is director for Scotland at Breast Cancer Now

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