Macmillan Cancer Support

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Macmillan Cancer Support Logo

Macmillan Cancer Support is one of the largest British charities and provides specialist health care, information and financial support to people affected by cancer.

As well as helping with the medical needs of people affected by cancer, Macmillan also looks at the social, emotional and practical impact cancer can have, and campaigns for better cancer care. Macmillan Cancer Support's goal is to reach and improve the lives of everyone living with cancer in the UK.


The charity was founded, as the Society for the Prevention and Relief of Cancer, in 1911 by Douglas Macmillan following the death of his father from the disease. In 1924 the name was changed to the National Society for Cancer Relief, which it retained until 1989 when it was changed to Cancer Relief Macmillan Fund, later changed again to Macmillan Cancer Relief. From 5 April 2006 Macmillan Cancer Relief became known as Macmillan Cancer Support as this more accurately reflects its role in supporting people living with cancer. It has adopted the principles of being a "source of support" and a "force for change".

Douglas Macmillan was a vegetarian. In 1909, he wrote an open letter to all Christians entitled Shall We Slay which encouraged orthodox Christians to consider vegetarianism.[1]

As the National Society for Cancer Relief, the organization provided funding to support the work of the Breast Care and Mastectomy Association of Great Britain which would later become Breast Cancer Care.

Macmillan Cancer Support is one of the 50 largest UK charitable organizations ranked by annual expenditure.[2] It is governed by a Board of Trustees and Executive Management Team.[3]

The charity's head office is based in London.[4] Macmillan Cancer Support merged with cancer information charity Cancerbackup in 2008.

Macmillan works in partnership with other cancer research organisations and is a partner of the National Cancer Research Institute.

Cancer Support[edit]

Macmillan Cancer Support supports local information and support centres, cancer support groups, benefits advisers and cancer support specialists, and can help with practical, medical, financial and emotional support.


Macmillan host a series of annual fundraising events, which include running, golf and cycling events. The most notable event is World's Biggest Coffee Morning, which has generated £75 million since it began in 1991.[5]

Controversy over fund raising methods[edit]

Macmillan faced criticism when it placed adverts in Facebook and on Google associating the viral fund raising activity, the Ice Bucket Challenge with itself. It had been suggested that the aim of the Macmillan marketing campaign was to divert web traffic and subsequently awareness and donations away from smaller charities with whom the challenge had been mostly associated, namely those relating to Motor Neuron Disease and ALS.[6][7][8][9][10] Amanda Neylon, the head of digital at Macmillan, said the charity got behind the Ice Bucket Challenge, which asks participants to pour a bucket of iced water on their heads, because it was criticised for being too slow on the uptake for the #nomakeupselfie social media campaign. On missing out on the #nomakeupselfie campaign, Neylon said: "We were too slow – it was a big motivator to be much better the next time an opportunity came along."[11]


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