Cancer Fundraising Crisis: ‘You Can Feel Very Alone – It’s So Important To Have Someone To Support you’

'People with cancer need us more than ever. There has never been a more terrifying time in recent history to receive a diagnosis.'


by Rhiannon Evans |
Updated on

80,000 cancer patients could miss out on having a MacMillan nurse because of the shortfall in fundraising usually made during their usually hugely popular Coffee Mornings amongst the coronavirus crisis.

MacMillan have issued a warning that its flagship Coffee Morning fundraiser is facing a staggering 71% income drop (£20million) just as it prepares for a potential ‘tsunami of demand’ this autumn.

In Juneit was reportedthat one in 10 UK charities are facing bankruptcy by the end of the year as they struggle to cope with a £10bn shortfall caused by soaring demand for their services and lost fundraising income due to the coronavirus pandemic

Cancer patients who have previously relied on the service are speaking out on the importance of the charity in a bid to encourage people to donate and host whatever coffee morning they can manage, somehow.

The charity says the huge shortfall is coming at a time when people with cancer need the charity’s support more than ever. Many saw their treatments changed, postponed or even cancelled due to coronavirus - and they continue to be adversely impacted by the pandemic. In fact Macmillan’s support services are preparing for a potential influx of demand this autumn due to the ongoing diagnosis and treatment backlog, routine winter pressures and the conclusion of the furlough scheme – as well as the possibility of a second wave.

'I’d been poorly for a few months before being rushed into hospital one Friday morning in May. At first, I was told I had breast cancer. It was a shock but, that’s OK I thought, people survive. Five days later I was told that it had spread to my bones,' says Emma. 'That I had secondary breast cancer, and that it was terminal.

'That year passed in a blur of hospital appointments, scans, chemo and radiotherapy. I only found out later that I wasn't expected to make it past Christmas. The moment I was told I had a terminal illness something inside me changed and I became stronger.

People with cancer need us more than ever. There has never been a more terrifying time in recent history to receive a diagnosis

'Don’t get me wrong, I was scared – so scared. You assume you’re going to die almost immediately and all I could think about were my children. They needed me. My relationship didn’t work out, so now I am a single mum – to three gorgeous children. It’s hard, it’s tiring but it gives me something to focus on and a reason to get out of bed every day. I urgently needed to give them experiences, make memories. I didn’t know how long I had, so time was of the essence. We did so much in that first year.

'You almost have to grieve the life you were living and the future you had planned. But slowly, very slowly, you adjust and somehow you find a new normal. Every so often, I struggle. I have waves of emotion and have had to learn to ride them. They pass. Usually.

'Not only am I living with my cancer and the medicines I have to take to keep me alive, I’m also living with all the crap normal life throws at you.

'It was my Macmillan nurse who helped me navigate that, sorting my finances and accessing the payments I needed to help me. They have been amazing actually. You can feel very alone when you have cancer and it’s so important to have someone to support you, like the people I have met through Macmillan.

'I have done a Macmillan Coffee Morning too before and raised over £400 It means a lot that people care enough to raise money. I’m stable at the moment. I know that I will never be celebrating an ‘all clear’ milestone but I do mark the day I was diagnosed every year. We mark these milestones, these years I never thought I would have, and I feel lucky. Six years ago I was given six months to live.'

If the shortfall in the money raised from the Macmillan coffee morning is as much as the charity fear, it would mean over 150,000 people affected by cancer missing out on the vital in-depth support from professionals or services.

Ruth Godfrey, 55, from Norfolk was diagnosed with breast cancer at the end of 2019. She says: 'Macmillan has been a huge part of helping me through lockdown, chemo and cancer during these past few months. They’ve been at the end of a phone line for advice not only for me, but also my family. Especially when my Dad passed away in April with cancer while I was in the middle of treatment myself.

'One day in particular stands out when I was on my third round of chemotherapy and I made a cup of tea and got teary because I couldn’t remember the last time I’d had a drink with somebody. Then I drank the tea and I thought the milk had gone off, but it hadn’t, the chemo had affected my taste. I was just sobbing and I rang Macmillan. They explained to me that this is all part of the process, reminded me it’s not going to last forever and that I was doing really well. That was one of my lowest moments and they were there for me, and I now want to give something back to them.'

Claire Rowney, Executive Director of Fundraising, Marketing and Communications at Macmillan Cancer Support, says: 'Macmillan relies on donations to provide care and support for 1.9 million people affected by cancer every year – and sadly this support could be at risk without income from events like Coffee Morning. People with cancer need us more than ever. There has never been a more terrifying time in recent history to receive a diagnosis as people face potential disruption or delays to treatment, amid an increased risk of infection to the coronavirus.'

Macmillan has changed the format of the coffee mornings for the first time in 30 years and is encouraging people to take part however suits them, perhaps...

Hosting a socially distanced Coffee Morning safely from their doorstep

Taking on an exciting new challenge altogether, such as doing a sponsored run, walk or cycle

Setting up a virtual Coffee Morning online

Making a donation online and raising a mug with a selfie for people living with cancer

For more information, go to

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