James Brokenshire returns to Westminster after lung cancer op

Posted On: 
24th February 2018

James Brokenshire, the former Northern Ireland Secretary, this week returned to work in Westminster just five weeks after an operation to remove the upper lobe of his right lung.

James Brokenshire returned to Westminster this week
PA Images

Mr Brokenshire received the lung cancer diagnosis immediately after the government had finalised the phase one agreement with the European Union regarding the status of Northern Ireland after Brexit – discussion in which he played a key role.

It forced him to leave the Cabinet, but he said: "The easiest thing in the world for me to have done would have been to say, 'sorry I'm too busy, we'll put this off'. If I had, who knows what the prognosis or the outcome would have been.

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"But I put my health first and I suppose that's a lesson for all of us. Your health is your priority. Without that where would any of us be?"

He argued that his diagnosis – he has never smoked – shows that the stigma around lung cancer is unwarranted.

"I think we need to promote that lung cancer is about early diagnosis, about awareness, about ensuring there are the right pathways to get the clinical interventions that are needed.

"And also to break some of the stigma around lung cancer, because around 15% of cases are in non-smokers, people who have not smoked at all and yet there is this assumption that it must be your fault in some way. And we do need to break that."

Mr Brokenshire said he would now focus on constituency work from the back benches.