Secondary Breast Cancer Campaigner
1971. Laura Ashurst
Laura Ashurst, from Stokesley, North Yorkshire, is a three-time breast cancer survivor who has campaigned for fifteen years to improve the lives of the 35,000 women across the UK with secondary breast cancer.
First diagnosed with cancer in 2001 at the age of 34, with a return of cancer again three years later, Laura was told she had an incurable secondary form of the disease in 2007, and that she would have only two years to live. Frustrated about the lack of information available to people with secondary breast cancer, Laura teamed up with charities including ‘Cancer Research UK’, ‘MetUpUK’ and ‘Breast Cancer Now’ to campaign for quicker diagnosis of the illness, faster access to available treatments and more cancer nurse specialists. Alongside her national campaigning, she has been focused on improving the local provision of cancer services, working with South Tees NHS Hospitals Foundation Trust on the recruitment of a specialist cancer nurse to support secondary cancer care across the area. Laura also blogs about her experiences of living with cancer to help other people understand more about the condition and inspire hope, as well as running mindfulness and meditation sessions designed to support anyone with their wellbeing.
In a personal letter to Laura, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said:
“For almost a decade, Prime Ministers have been recognising the service of outstanding volunteers by naming them as Points of Light.
“I am delighted to be continuing this tradition today – and I am thrilled that my first Point of Light is you.
“Ever since you shared your story with me back in 2016, I have been inspired by your courage and by the passion with which you have campaigned for better secondary breast cancer care.
“By speaking about your own experience, you have helped so many others facing a similar diagnosis. And I have seen first-hand how you have helped South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust improve its care for secondary cancer in my constituency, including through the recruitment of a specialist nurse.
“All across our communities there are extraordinary people like you, acting with kindness and empathy, creating new and often innovative ways to improve the lives of others.
“Your service represents the very best of our country – and I am honoured to name you as the UK’s 1,971st Point of Light.”