Tassia Haines

We are heartbroken to share the news that Tassia Haines has died.

A member of METUPUK and our Executive Lead for Wales, Tass had been a significant campaigner for MBC patients since her own diagnosis at 28 years old.

Tassia’s passion for change was driven by her own experience of healthcare inequalities. She was not told by any clinicians that there was a risk of developing metastatic disease after her initial primary breast cancer diagnosis. She was turned away from her GP ten times, dismissed repeatedly despite having red flag symptoms. Subsequently she collapsed with spine metastases by the side of the road while out one day and upon hospitalisation, bone mets were found in her legs, hips, spine, ribs, skull and neck. Tass the campaigner was born and her passion for getting awareness of the red flag signs and symptoms to all patients was a priority.

She created a petition that was signed by over 14,000 people to support patients better who were living with metastatic breast cancer (MBC) in Wales. Tass discovered that her story was not unique and that MBC patients were being badly let down by the system. At that time, Wales had just one dedicated secondary breast cancer clinical nurse specialist (CNS), a situation leaving potentially hundreds of people without adequate support. Alongside her petition she decided to create the “Gammon Dragon” artwork in memory of a METUPUK Welsh member and advocate Carolyn Gammon who died three years ago after living with MBC for five years. The huge illuminous pink dragon on the side of a house in Port Talbot was the focus of the petition.

Through her campaigning work taking the petition to Senedd, Tassia highlighted the issues caused by lack of awareness for MBC given to primary patients, lack of data collected and the lack of clinical nurse specialists in Wales. Tassia didn’t stop with the petition, she took her campaigning to the Welsh Health Minister Eluned Morgan and to the National Cancer Clinical Director for Wales, Professor Tom Crosby. She was invited to the Senedd to raise her concerns with the Health Minister and spoke up for patients with MBC. With the support of Macmillan, funding was secured to recruit three secondary breast care nurses.

Spurred on, Tass also worked with Zoe Barber, Director for Breast services at Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board and Jo Taylor from METUPUK and After Breast Cancer Diagnosis (ABCD) to roll out the red flag infographics into the pathway for primary patients in Wales. This, coupled with a documented MBC pathway by Zoe Barber, has become Tass’ legacy. This legacy will benefit primary and metastatic patients across Wales for years to come.

She also raised money for METUPUK and abcd, Tass did the 3 peaks of Saddleworth Challenge in 2022 and Nick cycled whole length of Wales 310 miles. They stopped at 310 miles because 31 signifies the 31 women dying every day in the UK of MBC and the Darker Pink campaign that Tass was part of.

Tass used her Instagram account to share what life was like living with MBC and when she was told she was now end of life, but still on treatment, she also used this to document the highs and lows of actively dying. Tassia was 32 and she shouldn’t have died from this disease. She was way too young, had all her hopes and dreams taken away from her and we will mourn her death as another one of the 31 women every day dying from this horrendous disease.

We are thinking of Nick, her family and friends at this time and send all our love from her METUPUK family. She will be hugely missed and we are proud of the woman she was, using her time to address matters that impacted her and also impacted other patients with MBC.