Macmillan launch talking about cancer campaign

Macmillan Cancer Charity have launched a powerful campaign to make people aware of how they can talk about cancer and the people who are going through it.

According to a new survey, for some people with the illness, many terms used to describe people with cancer are inappropriate rather than uplifting.

A UK poll by the charity of 2,000 people who have or had cancer found that “cancer-stricken” and “victim” were among the least-liked terms.

Karen Roberts, Chief Nursing Officer at Macmillan Cancer Support, said:

“These results show just how divisive and ‘Marmite’ simple words and descriptions can be.

“Cancer throws all kinds of things your way, and struggling to find the words, and the emotional turmoil caused when our friends and family don’t get it ‘right’ only makes lives feel even more upended.

“By drawing attention to this we want to encourage more people to talk about the words they prefer to hear, and stop the damage that can be caused to people’s wellbeing and relationships.”

Talking about how to talk to somebody with cancer, Mandy said it is fine to not always know what to say.

“If you tell me it’s awkward and you don’t know what to say I will find a way to make that right for you, and actually on some occasions, I might say ‘we don’t have to talk about it’.

“But just be real.”


They also released a video to give some guidance about what not to say.

Comments which were ill received, included:

“You’re such a fighter” 

“Stay positive” 

“You really don’t look like a cancer patient”

“You’re so inspirational”

“How’s your cancer journey going?”


Watch the video below:



Text References

Abernethy, L – Metro. (2019). People with cancer reveal the clichés they hate hearing about the disease. Accessible: Last Accessed: 29 January 2019.

BBC News. (2019). Cancer clichés to avoid: I’m not ‘brave’. Accessible: Last Accessed: 29 January 2019.