A veteran Sheffield MP undergoing treatment for cancer says he is 'fully back in action' after making his return to the House of Commons.
Clive Betts, the Labour MP for Sheffield South East who has been in politics for more than 40 years, took a leave of absence from meetings and Parliamentary business in March to receive a stem cell transplant, but was back in the Commons chamber for the first time yesterday asking questions on transport.
Mr Betts, 68, was told he had multiple myeloma, a form of blood cancer, last August, and has also been given chemotherapy at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital. He had never had a day off sick before his diagnosis.
He said he was 'feeling very positive' after his transplant. "I'm making very good progress, that's what the doctors seem to think. I'm not saying I feel 100 per cent, but I'm in the 90s, I think. And when I say 90-odd per cent, that's still doing more than a full day's work."
The MP has been 'back all week' on select committee duties - he chairs the local government and communities panel - and has been working in his Sheffield office in Barker's Pool too.
"I'm back really working full-time now."
He said he saw 'no reason at all' to take further time off and was 'fully back in action'. "They will do further tests and things in a few weeks' time to see how the treatment has gone and things. My medication is at the minimum level now."
He raised a question in the Commons about the prospect of new trains for the Midland Main Line. The secretary of state Chris Grayling had promised modern bi-modal units - capable of switching between diesel and electric power - for the Sheffield to London route by 2022, but transport minister Jo Johnson could only say the trains were in use on the Great Western line, which 'misses the point completely', Mr Betts said.
"We still have a massive gap in terms of what is available and what is needed for the Midland Main Line."
His illness was detected early when he had a routine blood test after changing GPs.
“It was as simple as that. I’d not been ill, in that sense. I didn’t have any symptoms," he said in January. "They were good, spotted it, did a second check and sent me off to hospital. The NHS have been absolutely brilliant.”
There is no cure for the disease, but treatments are improving. “If the stem cell transplant works, which they’re convinced it will, you go into remission. They don’t know how long it goes into remission for – that’s something they can’t predict – but when you are, you’re back to normal and don’t need any medication at all. My GP said, ‘This is not a disaster. Just get on and live your life, carry on doing what you do and remain positive.’"