7 July 2015
Macmillan Cancer Support’s website, The Source, offers top tips for practical and emotional support for people affected by cancer
In Britain 63 per cent of people currently have, or have had, a family member or a close friend with cancer, reveals Macmillan Cancer Support today. Earlier this year, Macmillan announced that there are currently 2.5 million people living with cancer in the UK, which is set to rise to 4 million by 2030 .
Overall, most people in the country (70 per cent) know, or have known, someone with cancer – whether a colleague, acquaintance, family or friend. And one in three people (33 per cent) have, or have had, a parent, child or sibling with the disease.
Worryingly, the research found that around a third of people do not feel confident about providing the person or people they know with cancer with emotional support (34 per cent), or practical support (29 per cent).
The charity is using today’s new research, carried out by NFP Synergy through a survey of more than 1,000 British adults, to encourage people to reach out to those they know who have cancer, to help them feel less alone.
Sadly, more than four in ten people (42 per cent) surveyed who are living with cancer themselves also have, or have had, a family member or close friend with the disease.
Annabel Cleare, 47, is an actress from London who appeared in a Macmillan television advert in 2014. Later that year, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She says:
“I just couldn’t believe the irony of having played a cancer patient, then becoming one so soon after.
“The feelings of isolation are definitely there. Emotionally you can go into a kind of bubble. And I’m not good at being looked after; I find it really hard. But my friends have been amazing – offering kind words, messages of love and support, funny photos and jokes, and some very welcome visits with delicious treats. They’ve rallied round and helped to lift me out of the pit I was sinking into.
“When I tell some people about my cancer face to face I can see that they don’t always know what to do, or how to react. They want to help or be supportive, but they don’t know how to do it.
“My top tip if you know someone with cancer is to tell them when you think they look nice, however ill they are. When my hair started growing back after chemo, I had a couple of people worry about whether it was upsetting or insulting to tell me I looked good. But it was so lovely to hear and a real boost to my now quite wobbly self confidence.”
Macmillan Cancer Support offers information for people affected by cancer and those around them, and its The Source website (https://source.macmillan.org.uk) is home to hundreds of tips – generated by users of the site - for helping people with cancer. Popular advice ranges from sending a message of support on treatment days, to writing a letter, offering a hug or cooking a meal.
Fran Woodard, Director of Policy and Research at Macmillan Cancer Support, says:
“It’s a devastating reality that more and more people are getting cancer and today’s findings sadly show us that most of us have someone close to us who has been diagnosed.
“Thankfully, people are living longer with cancer, but it can be a lonely time when you are going through treatment and even afterwards, when you are getting back to work, family and social life.
“Whether the person you know with cancer has just been diagnosed, is going through treatment, or is trying to get on with life beyond cancer, reaching out to them could really help them to feel less isolated.
“It might be difficult knowing how to help, but everyone’s cancer experience is unique to them, so there’s no one ‘right’ thing to do or say. Our site gives some suggestions that people with cancer have themselves found useful.”
There are currently more than 400 useful tips on The Source and there are more than 95,000 registered members of Macmillan’s online community, a forum for sharing cancer experiences, asking questions and supporting other people affected by the disease.
Examples of tips from The Source:
• “Just because cancer treatment has finished, often the emotional effects of cancer stay with the person long after. Don’t forget to keep checking in and asking ‘How are you?’”
• “You don’t always know what to say when someone you know is diagnosed with cancer, but sometimes all they want is a hug.”
• “A message of support on treatment days, a cup of tea or a trip out means so much.”
• “It was lovely to receive nice skin creams and shower gels from a friend who realised how rubbish I was feeling about how I looked during treatment.”
• “During chemo the best support was someone cooking for the family as I was continually sick it was such a blessing.”
• “The kindness of a friend of a friend let us park in their drive a few minutes walk away [from the hospital]. It's the tiny, practical bits of support like this that make supporting Dad through treatment a whole lot easier.”
• “Before my aunt started treatment we made her a 'chemo survival pack' to help her deal with some of the side effects of treatment. We included nail strengthener, intensive lip balm, posh hand cream, ginger tea to help with any nausea, lavender oil to help her sleep and some DVDs to keep her entertained.”
• “Someone might not be up to a visit or a long phone call, but everyone loves seeing a letter on the doormat that isn't a bill or a pizza menu.”
For further information, please contact:
Sally Aston, Media and PR Manager, Macmillan Cancer Support
Notes to Editors:
 nfp Synergy Charity Awareness Monitor nationally representative online survey of 1,004 GB adults aged 16+. Fieldwork conducted April 2015.
 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.
 nfp Synergy Charity Awareness Monitor nationally representative online survey of 1,004 GB adults aged 16+. Fieldwork conducted April 2015. 34% of people who know/have known somebody with cancer say they do not feel confident providing them with emotional support, and 29% say they do not feel confident providing them with practical support.
 nfp Synergy. Charity Awareness Monitor nationally representative online survey of 1,004 GB adults aged 16+. Fieldwork conducted April 2015. 55 people in the survey had been diagnosed with cancer themselves. Of this group, 44% had/have had a family member or close friend with cancer.
About Macmillan Cancer Support
When you have cancer, you don’t just worry about what will happen to your body, you worry about what will happen to your life. Whether it’s concerns about who you can talk to, planning for the extra costs or what to do about work, at Macmillan we understand how a cancer diagnosis can take over everything.
That’s why we’re here. We provide support that helps people take back control of their lives. But right now, we can’t reach everyone who needs us. We need your help to make sure that people affected by cancer get the support they need to face the toughest fight of their life. No one should face cancer alone, and with your support no one will.
To get involved, call 0300 1000 200
today. And please remember, we’re here for you too. If you’d like support, information or just to chat, call us free on 0808 808 00 00
(Monday to Friday, 9am–8pm) or visit macmillan.org.uk