A breast cancer survivor says her charity ‘shouldn’t exist’ after she was made an MBE

A breast cancer survivor has said the charity she founded should not exist after she was recognized with a royal honor for her work.

Leanne Pero from London criticized larger cancer organizations for not providing enough support to ethnic minority groups after gaining an MBE at Windsor Castle.

The 38-year-old founded her own foundation and support group Black Women Rising after being diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 30, and has since helped more than 500 women who were also dealing with the disease.

Last year she was recognized in the King’s Birthday Honors list for her services to charities, particularly for minority ethnic groups with cancer.

Ms Pero told the PA news agency: “I never wanted to start a cancer charity – I’m creative, I run a dance company, I still run that dance company and I love it.

“A cancer charity like mine, so from the ground up, shouldn’t exist because the other charities, bigger charities, would have to get healthcare properly (and) the support packages and the programs that they run would must be able to connect with the whole of our British community.

“The fact that these women come to us and say, ‘We’re not getting the right support anywhere else, no one else has given us the right support,’ means to me that we’re still wrong.

“A lot has changed in the last five years I’ve been doing this work, but there’s still so much more to do.”

The Leanne Pero Foundation was initially established in 2019 to help with Ms Pero’s former profession as a business mentor, before morphing into an informal meeting group for women affected by cancer.

Investiture at Windsor CastleInvestiture at Windsor Castle

Ms Pero received her MBE from the Prince of Wales at Windsor Castle (Ben Birchall/PA)

It now includes two magazines, in-person and online support groups, monthly coffee mornings and a support line for nurses, and works with healthcare providers and other charities to diversify their policies and campaigns.

Ms Pero said: “What I really believe is one of the reasons that there were a lot of issues around people not necessarily relating to cancer in our communities, or people not feeling like black and brown people were getting cancer in the first place, was the lack of education in the communities, a lack of feeling that they were represented when it comes to the overall message of cancer.”

She added: “It’s not easy running a charity, especially when it comes to race. I’ve been cruelly cheated on and received death threats, all of it.

“What keeps me going is when I get a message from a young girl and she says, ‘I found my breast cancer because of you,’ or ‘I’m now thriving after cancer because I saw you do it and I saw you alive’, and that’s what’s really important to me.”

Ms Pero described being awarded an MBE as “something beautiful” and said she had a “brilliant conversation” with the Prince of Wales, who delivered the ceremony.

She said she wanted to see more commitments from political parties to research cancer rates among ethnic minority groups to support her work.