Jess Mills opens up about the pain of losing her mother Tessa Jowell

Jess Mills reveals that losing her mother Tessa Jowell to brain cancer 15 months after becoming a mum herself is ‘one of the greatest sadnesses’ she lives with

  • Tessa Jowell, culture secretary under Tony Blair, died from brain cancer in 2018
  • Her daughter Jess Mills now leads heath charity the Tessa Jowell Foundation
  • Appeared on Lorraine to discuss her mother’s legacy, including London 2012 bid
  • Jess said losing her mother not long after becoming a mum is a great sadness 

Jess Mills says losing her mother Tessa Jowell to brain cancer just 15 months after becoming a mum herself is ‘one of the greatest sadnesses’ she lives with.

The health advocate made the comments on today’s episode of Lorraine, while speaking about her late mother’s legacy.

Labour peer Tessa Jowell, who died in 2018 from brain cancer aged 70, was the MP for Dulwich until 2015, and served as culture secretary under Tony Blair.

One of her most notable accomplishments was the successful bid for London 2012, which was held 10 years ago this month.

While appearing on Lorraine today to mark the landmark date, Jess, who leads the Tessa Jowell Foundation which aims to improve brain tumour treatment, spoke about losing her mother.

Jess Mills (pictured) the daughter of Tessa Jowell, appeared on Lorraine today to talk about her mother's legacy

Jess Mills (pictured) the daughter of Tessa Jowell, appeared on Lorraine today to talk about her mother’s legacy

Tessa Jowell, pictured here during her historic speech to the House of Lords in 2018, died of brain cancer four years ago

Tessa Jowell, pictured here during her historic speech to the House of Lords in 2018, died of brain cancer four years ago

She told Lorraine: ‘One of my greatest sadnesses that I live with is that…my experience of becoming a mother intersected with my experience of losing my mum.

‘We had only 10 weeks before she was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer, which were just honestly some of the most precious, happy times of my life. 

‘But you know, we had 15 months with her with my daughter, and…when I get overcome with emotion like this, I just feel so grateful that we had her.

‘I feel so lucky that we had her for that time.’

During the segment, a visibly emotional Jess also spoke about the ‘historic’ speech her mother gave in the House of Lords in January 2018, just months before her death.

During the speech, Tessa said: ‘What gives a life meaning is not only how it is lived, but how it draws to a close. 

Tessa Jowell, pictured here with her granddaughter Ottie, died from brain cancer just 15 months after Ottie was born

Tessa Jowell, pictured here with her granddaughter Ottie, died from brain cancer just 15 months after Ottie was born

‘I hope that this debate will give hope to other cancer patients like me, so that we can live well together with cancer, not just dying of it, all of us, for longer.’

Jess said: ‘I…feel so overcome with emotion every time I watch [the speech], and I just feel so proud…when I watch it, I could just burst…particularly, if you knew how ill she was then.’

She added that after her mother’s health had deteriorated just days before giving the speech, there was ‘real concern about whether she could do it’.

‘But she was having absolutely none of it,’ said Jess. ‘So we sat in the gallery watching her deliver that, with our hearts in our throats.

‘She got through every single word…it was remarkable, absolutely remarkable.’ 

Jess, pictured here with her mother Tessa Jowell, says 'nothing taught her as much about the power of a life well lived' as seeing her mother's impact

Jess, pictured here with her mother Tessa Jowell, says ‘nothing taught her as much about the power of a life well lived’ as seeing her mother’s impact

Jess also discussed leading the Tessa Jowell Foundation, which is set to release a recut film version of Danny Boyle’s Olympic opening ceremony in a bid to raise funds for brain cancer sufferers.

Describing the position as a ‘privilege’, she said: ‘Nothing has taught me as much about the power of a life well lived [as] seeing the huge energy that my mum’s life force has had, even beyond her dying.

‘And so it’s just the most incredible privilege and honour for me to lead the Tessa Jowell Foundation, and you know, my mum would often say “with privilege comes great responsibility”. 

‘And I think, as her daughter, as someone who does have a campaigner’s heart, it’s a privilege that I just couldn’t possibly turn away from.’ 

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