Campaigning on cancer: success stories

With your help we’ve really changed things for the better. Together, we’ve spoken out about the financial impact of cancer, support for people after cancer treatment ends, welfare cuts, the lack of support for carers and improving care at the end of life.

Making money one less worry

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Making money one less worry

In 2017, we launched our campaign to ‘Make money one less worry’, which aims to make sure everyone gets the support they need to cope with the financial impact of cancer.



Many people aged 65 and over with cancer rely on Attendance Allowance for help with things they can’t manage themselves, like bathing, dressing or getting around.

  • We were concerned that proposed changes could have made it harder for people affected by cancer to access this vital financial support.
  • We worked with campaigners to help them share their experiences of Attendance Allowance, to demonstrate to the Government just how important it is that people can access this vital benefit, and why the changes shouldn’t go ahead.
  • Our voices were heard. Having listened to Macmillan and others’ concerns, the Government dropped proposals to make changes to the benefit Attendance Allowance.


  • We published our No Small Change report, highlighting the extent of the problem: four in five people with cancer are £570 a month worse off as a result of their diagnosis.
  • The report sets out recommendations for what UK governments, financial services firms, health bodies and the NHS can do to better support people who experience the financial impact of cancer.


  • We released In The Balance, a report outlining the banking sector’s vital role in supporting people with cancer.
  • We held a reception in Parliament to launch the report, bringing politicians, industry experts, and organisations representing customers together to discuss what can be done to make sure people get the help they need to manage their money worries. 


  • We launched our ‘Give us a break’ campaign, asking for people who have or have had cancer to share their experience of getting travel insurance with us.
  • Over 400 people responded, strengthening our evidence base so that we can continue our campaign to make sure people with cancer can access clear and fairly priced travel insurance policies. 


What next?

We're continuing to campaign to make sure everyone gets the help they need to cope with the money worries that cancer can bring.


Better support after cancer treatment

Frances finished treatment for Hodgkin lymphoma 4 years ago. She supported our Life After Cancer Campaign by sharing her story. More info

Better support after cancer treatment

Too many people across the UK are not getting the support they need when treatment ends, and this needs to change.

In 2017 we campaigned to raise awareness of the different support needs people have once treatment ends.

Autumn 2017 – Macmillan’s World Biggest Coffee Morning in Parliament

  • 2300 people invited their local MP to Macmillan’s World‘s Biggest Coffee Morning to learn more about the challenges people face after cancer treatment.
  • 99% of MPs in England were invited by you, and a record-breaking 126 MPs came along to meet campaigners like Frances and hear more about the challenges people face after treatment.

What next?

Pictured above: Frances (right) with her MP Alex Sobel, at Macmillan's World's Biggest Coffee Morning.

End of life care

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End of life care

We have campaigned with the belief that at the end of life, everyone should be able to die in the place and manner of their choosing.



The Government had committed to deliver high quality, personalised care for everyone at the end of life; a massive campaign success won by our campaigners in 2016.

  • But one year on, there was still a long way to go to turn this plan into action that delivered better care for cancer patients at the end of their life.


  • As part of the End of Life Care Coalition, we found that nearly half of draft local health plans in England had no mention or little detail of how end of life care would be improved.


  • At the General Election in June, your action to email your local candidates helped keep end of life care as a priority for all major parties, including the new Government.


  • Nearly 900 of you shared your stories of care at the end of life with us.


  • Macmillan research revealed the situation was even worse for people from the poorest areas in England at the end of life.
  • Our report, ‘The Final Injustice’, showed that cancer patients from the poorest areas are 18% more likely to die in hospital than those from the least deprived areas, and had around 15,000 more emergency hospital admissions in the final year of life.

What next?

We're continuing to campaign for better end of life care and support for people with cancer at the end of life.


Cancer Matters: General Election 2017

Claire, diagnosed with brain cancer, and Shez, her Macmillan nurse, hugging and smiling. More info

Cancer Matters: General Election - May 2017

Ahead of the General Election in June, we asked Macmillan campaigners and supporters to email their local candidates and let them know that cancer matters.

Too often people don’t get the support they need:

  • Health and care staff are facing unsustainable pressure.
  • Many people are struggling to cope with the cost of cancer.
  • Wishes about care at the end of life aren’t being met.

Over 1700 people emailed their candidates. Almost 6500 emails were sent to election candidates, across all parties.


Campaigners in Wales get information to people who need it

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Campaigners in Wales get information to people who need it



Evidence from the Wales Cancer Patient Experience Survey showed that many people are not getting the information they need to understand their cancer treatment.

In response, Macmillan Wales created Your Cancer Care in Wales, an information guide to help people with cancer find the information they need to understand cancer treatment in Wales. 

  • Over 65 champions across Wales signed up to champion the guide; with over 500 downloads of the guide in its first week.
  • We’ll be continuing to work with our champions to improve access to treatment information in Wales. Are you interested in becoming a champion? There’s still time - sign up now.

Read the guide in Welsh here.


Past successes - your calls for change have been heard

Together we have a record of delivering campaign victories. Over the years your calls for change have been heard, and they’ve made a big difference to the lives of people affected by cancer.

Here are just some of the changes you've helped us achieve:

Giving Hospital Parking Charges The Boot

In 2013 we released a report looking at the situation in England. We found huge variations, with some hospitals offering free parking and others charging up to £3 an hour.

We wanted to see action to tackle car parking fees for cancer patients attending hospital for life saving treatment.

Cancer patients will often need to make frequent trips to hospital for treatment, and unaffordable charges are leaving many out of pocket.

What we achieved

Thanks to you, we had some success across the UK, and most hospitals in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland now offer free parking for cancer patients.

What's next?

In England, despite government guidance stating that hospitals should offer free or reduced parking to cancer patients, some still face having to pay extortionate parking charges in order to access treatment. Patients can also face huge variations in cost depending on which hospital they attend.

If this is an issue in your area, why not email your MP and ask them to raise it with the local hospital trusts, who decide on parking charges.

I was going back and forth to hospital for tests and my husband would have to keep running out and topping up the meter.

Charmaine, diagnosed with breast cancer in 2009


Freeze out fuel poverty

What we wanted to change

  • Nearly one in five people with cancer turn off the heating, even though they're cold, because they're worried about paying their energy bills.

We campaigned for additional financial support for people with cancer who were in particular need and struggling with their energy bills.

As part of the campaign, we created a giant knitting machine (infi-knit) to highlight the impact of fuel poverty on people with cancer.

Campaigner messages, about keeping warm, were knitted together to make a giant woolly scarf petition. Over 5,000 people took part, making the scarf over 127 metres long.

Macmillan campaigners presented our giant woolly scarf petition to Greg Barker MP, the government minister responsible for fuel poverty at the time.

What we achieved

Success in England, Scotland and Wales

In England, Scotland and Wales the Government announced the Warm Home Discount Scheme to help people struggling to pay their energy bills. Macmillan campaigned to ensure that people with cancer were considered under the scheme.

Success in Northern Ireland

Following Macmillan’s campaign, the Northern Ireland Executive gave cancer patients a one off payment of £100 to help with their fuel bills. This was much needed help for cancer patients who faced difficulties in paying their heating bills after going through treatment; at least 4,200 cancer patientswere expected to be helped by this funding.

What's next?

Since 2004, we’ve been working with npower to help people with cancer keep warm without the worry.

It was great to meet the minister, who took our concerns seriously. When my husband Dennis was being treated for cancer he really suffered from the cold. Our bills went through the roof and worrying about how we were going to pay them was the last thing we needed.

Joy, Macmillan Campaigner


2015 General Election and 2016 Elections - Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland

What we achieved - General Election

With your help, we brought the voices of people affected by cancer to the heart of the 2015 General Election and kept cancer on the political agenda.

Thanks to your support, all of the main political parties in England made commitments to improving health and social care; making cancer care a priority for the new Government.

Our calls:

  • Patient outcomes
    We demanded earlier diagnosis and better support after treatment to improve outcomes so they match the best in Europe.
  • Patient experience
    We demanded health services that protect the dignity of patients, while giving staff the support they need to do this.
  • Social care at end of life
    We demanded free social care which people need to fulfil their wish to die at home if they choose.

What we achieved - 2016 Elections – Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland

On May 5, 2016 voters across the devolved nations went to the polls. 

With your help, we put the stories of people with cancer and their families at the top of the political agenda. We wanted to make sure future Governments committed to making cancer care a priority.

We were delighted that so many of our supporters emailed their candidates – and we got great responses from the parties and candidates.


Put the Fair into Welfare

Why we campaigned

In 2011 the government announced plans to make sweeping changes to the welfare system. Macmillan agreed that the system needed to be simplified. 

But the proposals could have pushed some people with cancer and their families into poverty.

That’s why we campaigned to ‘Put the Fair into Welfare’.

With your support, we made sure the needs of people affected by cancer were recognised by the Government. And we couldn’t have done it without you.

What we achieved

Some people with cancer were to lose their Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) after just one year:

  • We secured a commitment from the Government that more cancer patients would be placed in the ESA ‘Support Group’, where support is unconditional and not time-limited.

People with cancer were treated differently:

  • We secured a commitment from the Government that people awaiting, undergoing and recovering from all types of chemotherapy and radiotherapy would be placed in the Support Group regardless of how their treatment was administered.

Plans for a six month wait for financial support. It was proposed that people with cancer would have to wait six months before applying to Personal Independence Payments (PIP).

  • We successfully campaigned for this to be reduced to three months because people shouldn’t have to wait longer if they need help to cover the additional costs of living with a disability or long term condition.

What's next?

We're still working to put the fair into welfare. Join the campaign to make sure that government changes to the welfare system don’t have a detrimental impact on people affected by cancer.


Carers campaign success

Without support many carers struggle to cope.

Since 2013 we have campaigned to improve identification and support for cancer carers across the UK and, with your help, we have made a real difference.

What we achieved


  • In 2016 over 15,000 people signed our petition calling on a new Carer’s Strategy in England to take into account the needs of people who care for someone with cancer. 
  • In 2014 we successfully campaigned to make sure new legislation contained measures to improve the identification and signposting to support of people looking after a loved one with cancer. 

You can see some of the things we campaigned to change in our report, Do you care? [PDF, 1.92 MB]


In Scotland, Macmillan worked with other charities to influence the Carers (Scotland) Act 2016. This new law means more carers should get a ‘Carer’s Support Plan’ to give them social and financial help.  

Find out more about our work in Scotland.


  • Macmillan worked with the Wales Carers Alliance to help influence a major new law in Wales - the Social Services & Well-being (Wales) Act. It’s a big step forwards and means all carers in Wales will now get an assessment of their needs as carers, regardless of the type or amount of caring they do, as well as receiving information and advice or a support plan. 

Find out more about our work in Wales.

What next?

We're still working to improve support for carers. Join the campaign to tackle the carers’ crisis.


Free prescriptions

Following the success of our prescription charges campaign, cancer patients in England, like those in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, are also entitled to free prescriptions.

Since 2005, to help with the hidden cost of cancer, Macmillan has campaigned in all four nations of the UK to overturn this tax on illness and end prescription charges.

Find out how you can access free prescriptions, and more about our making money one less worry campaign.