Labour GenSec Formby issues message about cancer diagnosis – and love for the NHS

Jennie Formby tweets a message of love for the NHS
Jennie Formby

Labour’s outstanding general secretary Jennie Formby has tweeted a message she sent to staff and MPs this morning, informing them she has been diagnosed with breast cancer:

While a subset of right-wing ‘Labour’ MPs have been coordinating attempts to bully the indomitable general secretary and briefing to the press against her, she has been working hard and selflessly to bring the party admin she inherited into a fit state – all while apparently keeping the stress and worry of the diagnostic process to herself in order to focus on the job without distracting her staff or looking for sympathy.

How typical of her that in making the announcement she writes more about our NHS and the need for voters to support Labour to protect it than she does of herself.

Hopefully those MPs who participated in the disgraceful behaviour of the last few months are suitably ashamed of themselves this morning – but it’s doubtful.

The Labour Party made an outstanding choice when it appointed Ms Formby to her role. Please send messages of solidarity as a response to her tweet here.


  1. “Hopefully those MPs who participated in the disgraceful behaviour of the last few months are suitably ashamed of themselves this morning – but it’s doubtful.”

    Oh, c’mon Squawkbox. This isn’t an opportunity for political point scoring. Shit happens. Cancer happens.

    Why not just post ‘Good Wishes’?

    1. Would you like to post your good wishes then RH , as I can’t see any here yet from you.

      1. I am not going to sully this thread concerning the announcement on Jennies Health by engaging in a pointless bout of unpleasantness with the likes of you RH . Most folks here have been able to wish her well without some other intent attached ( the attack on SB ) to those good wishes .
        As usual you are your normal insulting repugnant self

      2. “I am not going to sully this thread”

        I think that you already have.

  2. Good wishes to JF.
    Those that haven’t had a cancer diagnosis really have no clue how big it is. She’s shown great courage, and has great strength – that’ll help her on her journey.

    1. Why do people say that? “If X hasn’t happened to you you can’t know”
      Sorry, but that’s just not true.
      Among humanity’s defining characteristics are the abilities to put ourselves in others’ shoes, and to contemplate and prepare ourselves for various of our own possible futures.
      There’ve been dozens of TV programmes, many of us have family members/friends/loved ones who’ve been affected and we now know that the likelihood of a diagnosis multiplies with every decade after – my age, actually.
      I’ll hear my own diagnosis with equanimity and a (probably tasteless) joke to put the doctor at ease.

      1. I hope it never happens to you, but if it does, I hope you’re man enough to apologise for such a stupid comment.

      2. Sorry, Andrew – but David’s comment is far from ‘stupid’. Given that your comments are usually perceptive, I trust that you just misread it.

        There’s no inherent virtue in being a sufferer – as I have said elsewhere – shit happens. It’s not a badge of honour or distinction. It’s tough luck – and a good (indeed – tasteless) laugh with the medical helpers is a healthy two-fingered response if you’re the unlucky one.

        But there *is* virtue in the choice that real empathy entails.

      3. Andrew Heenan-heenan73 – do Macmillan nurses have a clue? Are doctors, hospice workers, nurses, radiographers and other NHS professionals all clueless until they’ve had cancer?
        If I ever make a stupid comment I will apologise.
        Until then – I suggest not holding your breath either of you, you virtue-signalling pair of up-your-arses.

    2. Let me clarify.
      First, I never claimed any special virtue in having a cancer diagnosis, not implied it. I merely pointed out that JF’s handling of hers shows courage, and she happens to be a strong person.
      Second, I don’t deny empathy (and didn’t). I have the utmost respect for nurses, hospices, indeed the whole NHS team.
      But empathy is not a perfect science. I worked with cancer for some 40 years, but all the experience in the world, and all the education, is not the same as getting your own diagnosis. For one thing, when you go home, it’s still with you. And it’s waiting for you when you wake up.
      And you learning that is good (even though you’ll probably sneer). But it isn’t, and never could be, the same as experiencing it for yourself.

      1. “[cancer] waiting for you when you wake up.”
        Or waking up on the pavement cold, homeless, hungry & hopeless with a nagging chest pain.

  3. The one connected political point worth making is how much we need an effective national and *public* health service, free at the point of delivery, for those that find themselves in this position. As anyone who has undergone intensive treatment, and thought what it would be like to be in the US, will tell you.

  4. Ok – what planet are you from, how many more pods are there and what have you done with the real Steve Walker?
    (aside) “Quick, see if there’s any Roundup left!”

  5. A woman friend of mine has to have minor surgery re something similar and the NHS is coming to her aid so best wishes to Jennie, probably one of the best General Secretaries we have ever had!

  6. Get well soon Jennie, you have been brilliant. We all need you. Six years ago I was devastated by the news that I had one of the worst types of breast cancer, grade three triple negative. After some knock chemotherapy for five months, an operation and booster doses of radiotherapy, I am still here to tell the tale. I go on all the NHS marches, the NHS saved my life.

  7. As a member stranded in a swamp filled with alligators surrounded by a sea of sharks Jennie Formby has been a beacon of light guiding us to a safe harbour
    Time to care of yourself now bonnie lass, your in the best hands, enjoy the company of loved ones
    See you back when your good and ready

  8. Thank you SKWAWKBOX. I have tweeted my love and support in solidarity to Jennie.

    She is right to have full confidence in our NHS: I was diagnosed with breast cancer in April 2015. The treatment I received from my local NHS Breast Cancer Unit, couldn’t have been better. My Consultant Surgeon was brilliant, empathetic and wholly supportive.

    I had surgery, including the removal of two lymph glands under my left armpit – as a precautionary measure – even though the cancer hasn’t moved anywhere else, and all the usual follow-on treatment and allocated a specialist breast cancer nurse who gave me her phone number in case I had any worries.

    I have appointments with my Consultant Surgeon, every six months. She has informed me that she is 99.9% certain that the cancer hasn’t spread. In April 2020, I will have completed my course of meds.

    RH: “Shit happens. Cancer happens”, of course it does. Has it happened to you? I don’t think so, otherwise you’d be a bit less aggressive and insulting.

    May has sold off the profitable parts of the NHS, to the likes of Branson, and has suggested that the NHS be run by a private US company, for which taxpayers will have to fork-out. Nye Bevan is a hero of mine for giving us the NHS:
    that meets the needs of everyone
    that it is free at the point of delivery
    that it is based on clinical need, not ability to pay

    Meanwhile, a US friend of mine recently died from cancer of the breast, even though she had private medical insurance because she used-up the amount of money that was allocated for her treatment by her Insurance Policy.

  9. “RH: “Shit happens. Cancer happens”, of course it does. Has it happened to you? I don’t think so, otherwise you’d be a bit less aggressive and insulting”

    What’s ‘aggressive’ or ‘insulting’ about my essential comments here? Calling out inaccurate, irrelevant and stupid remarks aimed at hi-jacking this thread with self-indulgent distortions is just responding with appropriately strong distaste. I don’t suffer that sort of crap mildly.

    I have every empathy with your situation – and that of Jenny Formby, and you might note that my central remarks have been in agreement with what you say about the NHS as something that needs to be constantly rehearsed. – and I even paralleled your comments about the situation in the US as a comparison. It’s also one of the key reasons that I am passionately opposed to the current wave of xenophobia and economic damage connected to Brexit.

    ” Has it happened to you? I don’t think so,”

    No? As I say : Shit happens. Cancer happens. I hope you’re not suggesting that these are ‘aggressive’ or ‘insulting’ thoughts? I find them helpful in putting things in perspective. But – whatever. Each to what works.

    1. As an addendum – I’ve just realised what you may have misinterpreted. My original comments were making the point that peripheral political point-scoring is inappropriate in making a false link with the random misfortune of a cancer diagnosis that has nothing to do with the politics.

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