Greens co-leader announces breast cancer diagnosis

Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson has announced she has been diagnosed with breast cancer.

"Just over a month ago I was sitting in a doctor's office at one of those appointments you hope you will never need," Davidson said, speaking from Parliament, surrounded by Green MPs on Monday.

"A routine mammogram showed some potential concerns, a biopsy then confirmed I have breast cancer.

"Fortunately, the cancer has been caught early and treatment will begin soon. I will be having a partial mastectomy in the first week of July. Following this, I will be taking leave to recover from surgery and begin further treatment," Davidson said.

She expects to take about four months, but cannot confirm when she will be returning to Parliament.

"I do want to be clear that we are fortunate to have picked this up early enough to give us the best odds of getting rid of it, thanks to the breast screening programme."

It was important for screening programmes to be supported and equitable, to make sure more people are screened in time to save lives, she said, urging other women to get screened.

Davidson paid tribute to the Green Party caucus, saying she feels enormously grateful for the outpouring of aroha from the MPs.

Her husband has been her "absolute rock of emotional support", she said, and her tamariki and mokopuna generously share their māmā and nana with the Green Party every day.

"My strength is not mine alone, it is that of many."

"This is not a time for political point-scoring, but as the Green Party we always understand that the personal is political."

Marama Davidson made the announcement at Parliament this morning. Photo: RNZ
Marama Davidson made the announcement at Parliament this morning. Photo: RNZ
Davidson said she naturally wants to look after others and it was hard for her to listen to the wise voices who told her it was time to look after herself.

"Instead, I can't help but feel how deeply unfair it is that not everyone in Aotearoa does not have access to the same support that I do."

The country could be better off if "we put our values of care into action".

Some groups, including Māori and Pacific women, were more likely to be diagnosed, and more likely to die, from cancer in New Zealand, she said.

"I just want to make it really clear that the surgeons, the nurses, the clinicians, all of the health workers have been absolutely - and this is the public health system - have been absolutely stunning, and doing their mahi in a sea of insecurity, and I really want to honour them."

She will still be asking delegates to vote for her at the upcoming AGM, "in the full knowledge that I will be taking some months off, and the full trust that I will be returning with fierce determination to fight for people and planet".

"There are too many things I still want to help with."

Davidson said despite everything she was feeling good and, mostly, grateful for the support she has been given.

"This diagnosis has given me even more passion and energy to do the mahi that needs to be done, it has really focused me.

"While I can work, I will continue to."

Asked about what it means for her, fellow co-leader Chlöe Swarbrick said "this isn't about me", and the party has made jokes that it was "not so much a hierarchy as it is an ecosystem".

They have been open that the last few months have been "an incredibly rough time", she said, but the caucus has stuck together and they have a hard-working incredible group of people behind them.

Swarbrick said Davidson was "one of the strongest people that I have ever met and the things that people see in public are just the tip of the iceberg".

She was told about the diagnosis a few weeks ago and they have been working since then to ensure the team has the focus and plan to do the mahi they were at Parliament to do, she said.