World Cancer Day 4 February 2018

We're here today and every day.

Macmillan is here on World Cancer Day and all year round, supporting people whose lives are affected by cancer and part of our mission is to help you to be there too.

As more people live longer with cancer and more of us experience cancer, most people will now know someone with cancer - whether they're a colleague, family member or friend.

We know that lots of us admit to finding it difficult to support friends living with cancer, which often means those with cancer are left feeling isolated. 

According to a new study, more than 370,000 women with cancer are turning to social media during cancer treatment and recovery. 90,000 UK women found using social media during cancer boosted their self-esteem, with 38 percent of them stating that they ‘felt like they could be themselves again’ online.

Many of us struggle to understand what a friend with cancer is going through – they don't know what to say when they hear the news and worry they might say the wrong thing. We also know that lots of people find being supportive too upsetting in itself.

Cancer can be one of the hardest experiences a person will go through, and simply being there for someone can make such a difference.

A friend picked up my wig for me when I was in hospital and didn't have the energy. It helped me feel more confident about my appearance. It was so incredibly kind.

Ruth, 24, Cambridge

Read: Quick tips to make someone's cancer experience easier

  • Talk - Talking can help your loved one make sense of difficult experiences.
  • Keep in touch - There are lots of ways to keep in touch. If you're not sure, just ask what way works best for them.
  • Listen - Listening carefully to your relative or friend will give them support and help you understand their needs better.
  • Avoid saying the wrong thing - Understanding things that might be unhelpful to say will make you more confident about talking.
  • Start with the small things - Offering to do one or two practical things that your relative or friend has mentioned can make a big difference.


The reality is that supporting someone doesn’t require grand gestures, sometimes it’s unexpected acts of kindness that can transform someone’s day. 

We are here on World Cancer Day, and every day in between, to answer questions on all sorts of ways that cancer can affect your life. 

Or if someone simply wants to talk, then we can listen.

Our Support Line and Online Community offer a safe space for people to speak about cancer in a way that suits them.

Whether it was a text message, a slice of homemade cake or a surprise gift through the post, each small gesture truly touched me.

Uzma, 35, Lancashire

Ways to get involved today:

#Littleactsofkindness #WorldCancerDay with Macmillan logo and a heart.

Make a pledge

Tell us about a kind gesture that helped you through a tough day, or something you did to support someone else. Tag @macmillancancer and use #WorldCancerDay or #LittleActsOfKindness and we'll share our favourites.

Macmillan Nurse Shez speaks to another woman in a hospital.


Why not donate a small amount to make a big difference to someone's life? With your help nurses like Shez can be there for more people with cancer.

Be inspired

Read first-hand accounts from our Online Community members about the kind gestures - from friends, family, and even strangers - that had a lasting impact.

Doug smiles. He is seated at a table.

Read Doug's story

Meet Doug, who was motivated by the kindness he received after his cancer diagnosis, and set out on a mission to raise awareness of breast cancer in men.

Stories about reaching out to friends

Vivek hugs his mum.


'I feel so much luckier that I’ve got a core group of people that I actually care about and who really care about me.'

Rocio sits and thinks.


'Just be there. And if the person doesn't answer the phone, call them again.'

Gary smiles sitting on a couch indoors.


'The one thing I could do was watch movies, and the one person I knew who'd be insane enough to sit through them with me was Mike.'

Claire walks in the park.


'I went to the bar and when I turned around to go back, all my friends were sat there with bald caps on!'