A former MP has held a talk on her battle with cancer and how she has re-prioritised her life.

Fiona Mactaggart, the former MP for Slough, met with Aksa Marshal of the Meet and Mingle Women’s group, for a joint talk about their struggle with cancer.

Miss Mactaggart spoke of how she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2003, and her long road to recovery.

She said: “When I first got to hospital, I was still talking to journalists on the phone. I was still MP Fiona. Then a woman grabbed my hand – and I asked what she was doing, and she told me she was volunteer who came in to give women manicures.

“Just having that time to myself with her made me feel much more ready.”

Miss Mactaggart told the group how she underwent major surgery to remove her ovaries, and her road to recovery afterwards. She said: “Sometimes the little things are worse than the big things. My scar didn’t hurt that much, but the nose was awfully sore because of the tube.

“I had this wonderful bed that sat me up with the press of a button. Being able to have that control, to sit up when I wanted, was marvellous. Some people would say beds like that are a luxury, but I think we should have more of them.

“Sometimes its the family that suffers more than the patient. They are always wondering ‘is there something I can do?’ My brother, who lives in America, arranged for fresh flowers to be sent to me every week.”

Miss Mactaggart said her stay in St Thomas’s Hospital, London, opened her eyes to the situation of the health service: “The nurses there were wonderful. I invited them across the river to the House of Commons for a cup of tea to say thank you. They are really badly paid, though. I asked one if she could take a photo, but she told me she couldn’t afford to get it developed.”

Miss Mactaggart told the group how she turned down a government promotion because of her illness. “I still thought I was going to die. I wanted to spend my final years climbing mountains, reading good books, and playing with children, not working.”

Ms Marshal, who is currently recovering from ovarian cancer, invited Dr Lalitha Iyer, a founder of Meet and Mingle and the Managing Director for the East Berkshire CCG, to advise women on how to check for cancer.

Dr Iyer said: “Because ovaries are deep within your body, they can be difficult to check. If you feel any bloating, pain, or get an irregular period, you should check with your GP immediately.

“Survival rates for ovarian cancer are low, but it is improving all the time.”