11 February 2015
• Macmillan Cancer Support launch ‘Isolation Box’ in Paddington Station to coincide with new loneliness figures
• New figures reveal that an estimated 550,000 people living with cancer are currently suffering from loneliness
• The charity is calling on people to reach out to someone affected by cancer today
11th February 2015: Two cancer survivors – Caroline Lee and Amrik Nagra - today helped launch Macmillan Cancer Support’s ‘Not Alone’ Isolation Box to highlight the plight of lonely cancer patients in the UK.
The experiential box, which allows people outside to see in but stops the person inside seeing out, aims to evoke the same feelings of loneliness and isolation many cancer patients experience after a diagnosis. Caroline and Amrik’s personal stories are two of four that people will hear inside the box - they both talk poignantly about the effect loneliness had on them during their cancer journey.
New figures released by the charity today reveal an estimated 550,000 people in the UK – 22% of those living with cancer – suffer with loneliness as a result of their cancer . Research also reveals the devastating impact that loneliness can have on people’s lives, with many forced to skip meals or attend vital appointments alone. At worst this can result in patients refusing treatment altogether. Of those who are lonely, almost half (47%) feel this way despite having as much social contact as they want and more than half (56%) are married or have a partner , showing that loneliness can affect even those surrounded by family and loved ones.
The Isolation Box has been installed as part of the charity’s Not Alone campaign. In an instant, members of the public are taken from the hustle and bustle of one of the capital’s busiest stations, into an isolated box with just their own reflection and the voices of real people talking about how lonely they felt after being diagnosed with cancer. Like so many people affected by cancer they will be left feeling completely alone in a crowd.
Caroline, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in May 2013, says: “During the initial shock stage people were there for me, but that tails off quite quickly when people think you’re ‘getting better’. A lot of people don’t like to talk about cancer or ask how you’re doing, because they are scared of saying the wrong thing. But that just made me feel lonelier and like nobody cared or had time for me. Many people just don’t realise how isolating cancer can be. It’s so important to reach out and help make sure no one faces cancer alone.”
Laura Keely, Campaign Manager at Macmillan Cancer Support said: “We know only too well that loneliness can have a devastating impact on people lives. Quite often friends and family simply don’t understand what someone is going through and how utterly lonely a cancer diagnosis can make them feel. With 2.5 million people in the UK now living with cancer we simply can’t be there for everyone that needs us. That’s why we are calling on people to reach out to someone affected by cancer today. Even the smallest gesture - offering a cup of tea and a chat – can make a massive difference.”
To help people reach out to someone they know with cancer, Macmillan has launched The Source, a new website full of advice and inspiration on how to offer the support they need. Whether that’s going to a hospital appointment with them, offering to cook a hot meal, or helping them access advocacy services. Visit www.macmillan.org.uk/source for more information.
The box is installed in Paddington station from 7am – 7pm today and will then be taken on a regional tour.
For further information, please contact:
Emma Richardson, Tea & Cake PR
0207 012 1560
Notes to Editors:
1. Macmillan Cancer Support and Ipsos MORI research into isolation and loneliness amongst people affected by cancer.
o Online survey of 1,065 UK adults who have ever been diagnosed with cancer. Fieldwork took place between 12 and 30 September 2013. 1,000 interviews were carried out using Ipsos MORI’s Online Access Panel, with an additional 65 sourced from Macmillan’s contacts in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Survey data has been weighted by gender, age and nation using 2008 cancer prevalence estimates.
o 15 telephone and 5 face-to-face depth interviews with people living with cancer, to explore their experiences in more detail.
o The research found that 22% of people living with cancer (238 out of the 1,065 survey sample) have been lonely since their cancer diagnosis, or more lonely than they were before. Research findings amongst those who are lonely are therefore based on 238 people.
o The estimate of 550,000 comes from applying the proportion of people who are lonely since their diagnosis (or more lonely than they were before) to UK cancer prevalence estimates for 2015. Prevalence data sourced from: Maddams J, Utley M, Møller H. Projections of cancer prevalence in the United Kingdom, 2010-2040. Br J Cancer 2012; 107: 1195-1202. (Scenario 1).
2. Source as in reference 1. Of the people who are lonely since their diagnosis (or more lonely than they were before), almost half (47%) feel this way despite having as much social contact as they want with people they like. 48% are married and 8% are in a domestic partnership.
3. Maddams J, Utley M, Møller H. Projections of cancer prevalence in the United Kingdom, 2010-2040. Br J Cancer 2012; 107: 1195-1202. (Projections scenario 1). Macmillan analysis based on extrapolation of 2010 and 2020 projections that the number of people living with cancer will hit an estimated 2.5 million in 2015.