Emma Dent Coad reveals she had breast cancer surgery days before Kensington defeat

By Aliss Higham
December 18 2019, 14.40

Former Kensington MP Emma Dent Coad has announced she was diagnosed with breast cancer four weeks before she was due to contest her seat in the general election.

She revealed she had surgery to remove the cancer and a reconstruction just three days before polling day.

In an interview with Victoria Derbyshire on the BBC this morning, she said: “I didn’t want it to be a factor, either a positive or negative in my campaign.”

She added that she did not want to make it public because of possible reactions on social media.

She also praised her family and friends, as well as the doctors and staff at Charing Cross Hospital for their care, describing it as ‘a kind, caring conveyor belt’.

“I’ve got amazing family and friends and colleagues around me,” she said.

“As somebody who likes to be in charge of things, just handing yourself over to a doctor is quite humbling.

“Weirdly, it was a relief to know it was going to be done before the election, even though the timing was horrific.

“So I just sort of submitted to that. I’d allowed people to look after me which I don’t normally do – I’m a looker after-er.

“I had a day of rest and then I pottered around and tried to be visible. It was painful and it still is but I am healing up beautifully.”

She is going back to the hospital tomorrow ‘to see what they have found’ and for detail about any further treatment needed.

Emma Dent Coad and supporters
HUMBLED: Dent Coad surrounded by supporters

She praised the Labour party activists who campaigned for her re-election when she could not.

“The machine of the campaign continued around me,” she said.

“They were out three times a day. People came from all over London to help because it was Kensington, because it was the Grenfell constituency, some people because it was me, which was lovely to know.”

Dent Coad lost her seat to Conservative candidate Felicity Buchan by 150 votes last Thursday.

She publicly blamed former Tory-turned-Lib Dem candidate Sam Gyimah for splitting the remain vote.

When leaving the count in the early hours of Friday morning, she said: “Congratulations to Sam Gyimah for screwing up Kensington.”

Gyimah had previously wrongly accused her of having a role as a local councillor, in discussing the flammable cladding used on Grenfell Tower, ending in Dent Coad reporting him to the police.

She said despite her illness, she didn’t think it would have made a difference to the result if she had been able to be out campaigning for herself in Kensington.

“We were facing a barrage of lies and nastiness throughout the campaign, which was a disgrace.”

Following her defeat, she has discussed her time as a female MP in a male-dominated environment.

Speaking of Parliament, she said: “It’s a horrible place to work actually.

“It’s really brutal, misogynistic and unkind.

“I’ve worked in very male-dominated environments before but that was the most horrible place I’ve ever worked as a woman.”

Dent Coad will continue her role as a councillor in Kensington and plans to continue campaigning on behalf of Grenfell victims and their families.

She has expressed she will be backing Rebecca Long-Bailey as the next Labour leader.

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