The Cancer Paradox: Grounds for hope but we need to pull together

Published: 05 July 2023

At a time when the world seems to be at odds with itself, Macmillan’s CEO reflects on the opportunities and challenges in cancer care and invites you to have your say on how we can create a better future for people with cancer. 

Gemma Peters CEO of Macmillan smiling at the camera

Gemma Peters Chief Executive Officer (CEO) at Macmillan

What will the future hold?

The world today often feels caught in battles of extremes and the world of cancer and healthcare is no different. Hope and optimism are coming into constant battle with challenges and worry. We are all rooting for a brighter future, but fearful about what we see in front of us right now. As I think ahead to 2030 some days I wonder if it could be possible that Macmillan might be ready to shut up shop because cancer no longer causes people harm? On others I think the demand for Macmillan’s support will have grown exponentially as numbers of people with cancer grow and inequalities widen.

The opportunities

There is a great deal to be energised and excited about with breakthroughs in cancer treatment achieved around the world. Today we have better access to richer data than ever before, vital for spotting early warning signs for cancer and even preventing it in some cases, and technology is advancing at pace, revolutionising where and how cancer treatment is delivered and targeted. Progress is being made and this gives us hope. 

Changing cancer care together

There are powerful forces pulling the UK cancer experience in both positive and negative directions. Macmillan has over 100 years of experience in making changes that matter for people with cancer, and our ability to convene, to innovate, to bring the voice of people with cancer together to change the system is needed more than ever before.


But we cannot do it alone. We need people living with cancer right now to be at the heart of our approach. We need the insight of the people who love and support them and feel the impact of cancer on their lives, too. We need the expertise of the dedicated medical professionals who live this work every day. And we need the inspiration and ideas that will help to transform what it means to have cancer, for people right now and into the future. It is the right moment for Macmillan to make some important decisions about where our efforts will lead to the greatest impact, and the more perspectives we get from partners, supporters, even challengers, the better our decisions will be.

Have your say

As a first step, we invited everyone to help us by sharing their views about what we need to do in the UK when it comes to cancer.  

I think we can be hopeful that by 2030, the experience for people with cancer in the UK will be positively transformed. But that will only happen if that hope inspires us to act now and bring some clear focus and steely determination to the table too.  

Please help us understand how we can better help the growing number of people with cancer by answering these simple questions.


Updated 15th September

The survey is now closed. We are now looking through all the answers to gather insight to help us define what areas Macmillan should discuss and explore further. 


We will share an update about the answers from the survey in autumn 2023. Please visit 

Transforming Macmillan Together for the latest on Macmillan's open strategy, including insights from the survey. Tag: GENS