Surrey GP and cancer survivor stars in national TV and ad campaign

  • Dr Mei-Ling Lancashire spoke to ITV News Meridian's Mel Bloor

As a doctor, Mei-Ling Lancashire was always the one listening attentively and giving advice to worried patients.

But that changed abruptly two years ago when she was diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer. 

Now Mei-Ling, 43, a single mother of two to Jasmine, seven and Sophia, five, is at the heart of a new national advertising and fundraising drive from Cancer Research UK.   

She is one of the stars of the charity’s ‘Together We Are Beating Cancer’ campaign and features on a TV advert as well as billboards and posters on display across the UK, during September.

  • Cancer Research UK's ‘Together We Are Beating Cancer’ video

Dr Lancashire, who is senior partner at Park House Surgery in Bagshot, said: “It can be difficult for a doctor to be a patient. It’s a surreal experience to be on the other side of treatment.

“On one hand I was processing things as a doctor - almost a default setting so I was asking about things like markers and staging.

“But partly that was self-protection. Taking a clinical approach meant I could go into ‘doctor mode’ and not have to connect with what was happening to me personally. 

“I felt like I was looking death in the face, my girls were two and four at the time, I couldn’t leave them, I couldn’t die.”

Dr Lancashire has raised more than £25,000 for Cancer Research UK Credit: Mei-Ling Lancashire

Dr Lancashire had chemotherapy from September to January 2022 including the drugs epirubicin, paclitaxel and cyclophosphamide before undergoing a bilateral mastectomy in February.

Researchers funded by the Cancer Research Campaign (which preceded Cancer Research UK) supported early work on nitrogen mustard-based chemotherapy in the 1940s, which paved the way for drugs such as cyclophosphamide.

Thirteen weeks after her operations, Mei-Ling completed Ride London 100 and five months later ran the London marathon. Her fundraising for Cancer Research UK has now topped £25,000.

She is also swimming the Serpentine in September to raise further funds.

Dr Lancashire said: “Not only have I run the London marathon and done Ride 100 but I’ve done a coaching diploma and I’m doing one in lifestyle medicine. Those kind of things were hard to imagine when I heard those devastating words ‘it’s cancer.’

"That’s why I’m starring in this vitally important fundraising campaign to help ensure that the life-saving progress in research can continue and more families like mine can make more moments that matter.

“Sadly, not everyone diagnosed with cancer will reach key milestones – and that’s why the charity’s work is so vital. I wouldn’t be here without the scientists who strive to find new ways to outsmart cancer and the incredible fundraisers who make it all possible.

"So, now I’m happy to do what I can to show my support. I hope I can inspire other people to do the same. They could help bring hope and joy to more families like mine.”