Dame Tessa
Dame Tessa Jowell with son Matt and his wife Ella

Amit Roy
Amit Roy

Most people will be shocked by the news that Dame Tessa Jowell, one of the most respected figures from the Tony Blair and Gordon Brown years, has been battling brain cancer since May.

The former culture secretary, who stood down in 2015 after 18 years as the Labour MP for Dulwich and West Norwood, was her party’s favoured candidate to be mayor of London but was beaten by Sadiq Khan. Dame Tessa also fought to bring the 2012 Olympics to London.

News of her illness was given at the weekend by her daughter-in-law, Ella Mills, who blogs under the name Deliciously Ella and is married to Dame Tessa’s son, Matthew Mills: “The last few months have been some of the hardest of our lives after Matt’s mum was suddenly diagnosed with brain cancer in May.

“Her bravery, optimism, love and support for others during this process has inspired us both so much, and today, on her 70th birthday, we’re all pledging to try and do everything we can to make people’s lives with cancer better for longer.

“I’m sure so many of you have had to deal with this process too, and Matt and I will work to

find new ways of supporting and enhancing people’s lives who have been affected.”

In a statement Dame Tessa said: “I’m in treatment at the moment, but will share more soon and look forward to finding ways to make better, longer lives for people with cancer.”

The next year or so will doubtless be very tough for Dame Tessa, but she should be optimistic that she will get through the treatment.