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Poignant portraits of cancer pain: Famous faces pose with the public to mark Macmillan fundraiser

United by their experiences with cancer, celebrities and everyday people have posed for a series of poignant portraits.

Journalist George Alagiah, who was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2014, is one of those who participated in the series for the charity Macmillan Cancer Support.

He was pictured with personal trainer Mary Huckle, who was diagnosed with stage four breast cancer the same year.

Actress Sheridan Smith, who has lost loved ones to the disease, was also photographed along with nurse Suad Ibrahim whose father died of cancer.

The series was created by Rankin, who previously photographed the Queen and Kate Moss, to mark the return of Macmillan’s fundraising event Coffee Morning.

Mr. Alagiah said, “People always ask me how I deal with it and that’s the hardest question.

“The challenge in the beginning was to get my cancer diagnosis right in my head. Despite having so much ahead of me, a successful career and a loving family, I just got word here that I was dying.

“I wish I had known sooner how much support Macmillan could have given me throughout this experience, but I thought I had to be at the end of my life asking for it.”

Journalist George Alagiah (left) was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2014, personal trainer Mary Huckle (right) was diagnosed with stage four breast cancer the same year

Journalist George Alagiah (left) was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2014, personal trainer Mary Huckle (right) was diagnosed with stage four breast cancer the same year

TV and theater actor Sheridan Smith (right) met Manchester nurse Suad Ibrahim (left), both have lost a loved one to cancer

TV and theater actor Sheridan Smith (right) met Manchester nurse Suad Ibrahim (left), both have lost a loved one to cancer

TV and theater actor Sheridan Smith (right) met Manchester nurse Suad Ibrahim (left), both have lost a loved one to cancer

Ms Huckle said: ‘One of the worst things about being diagnosed with cancer was having to break the news to my loved ones. The ripple effects are always far-reaching and just as traumatic for them. Many lonely, sleepless nights followed.’

Miss Smith added: ‘Being connected with others who have been touched by cancer can really help you feel less alone.

“Macmillan’s Coffee Morning is the perfect space for that.”

This is Going to Hurt and Fleabag actor Kadiff Kirwan, who lost his mother to cancer, also sat for Rankin alongside former elementary school teacher Chloe Dixon.

Award-winning podcast host and cancer campaigner Lauren Mahon was photographed with Shell Rowe, a 23-year-old filmmaker and TikTok star who was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2019.

Ms Mahon, 37, who presented You, Me and the Big C with Dame Deborah James and Rachael Bland, who both later died of cancer, said: “When I was diagnosed, money was one thing that completely scared me. For some reason I thought – which I think is quite normal – that I would be looked after, that there would be government funding, or support that I could apply for.

‘I didn’t know it would be statutory sick pay. I had moved out of my parents’ house before I got my diagnosis and I couldn’t even afford to pay my rent in London – my friends had to raise money to keep me in my house.’

Actor Kadiff Kirwan, who lost his mother to cancer, sat next to former elementary school teacher Chloe Dixon who was diagnosed with blood cancer in 2018

Actor Kadiff Kirwan, who lost his mother to cancer, sat next to former elementary school teacher Chloe Dixon who was diagnosed with blood cancer in 2018

Actor Kadiff Kirwan, who lost his mother to cancer, sat next to former elementary school teacher Chloe Dixon who was diagnosed with blood cancer in 2018

Award-winning podcast host and cancer campaigner Lauren Mahon was photographed with Shell Rowe, a 23-year-old filmmaker and TikTok star who was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in 2019.

Award-winning podcast host and cancer campaigner Lauren Mahon was photographed with Shell Rowe, a 23-year-old filmmaker and TikTok star who was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in 2019.

Award-winning podcast host and cancer campaigner Lauren Mahon was photographed with Shell Rowe, a 23-year-old filmmaker and TikTok star who was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2019.

Earlier this month, leaked figures showed that more than 10,000 people were still waiting for treatment for three months or more after being referred for suspected cancer.

At the end of July, the backlog of those who had waited 104 days or more stood at 10,189, more than double the figure for June 2021, according to internal NHS data.

The total number of people who have started cancer treatment in England since the start of the pandemic is still more than 30,000 lower than expected – a figure that has barely changed in months, according to Macmillan’s analysis.

Claire Rowney, Executive Director of Fundraising, Marketing and Innovation at Macmillan Cancer Support, said: “This year, the vital funds raised through Coffee Morning will be more important than ever. The number of people living with cancer in the UK is unprecedented and with numbers set to grow to four million by 2030, our services are becoming a vital lifeline for many.

“We depend on the generous donations of our incredible supporters for 98 percent of our income and as it stands, we just aren’t able to support everyone who needs us.

“A cancer diagnosis can be incredibly frightening and for many people with cancer, times are tougher than ever, with continued disruption to care and treatment, the rising cost of living and everything else that comes with a diagnosis. Macmillan provides a much-needed safety net for people who simply don’t know where to look.’

The charity is urging the public to sign up to host a coffee morning, which will take place on September 30, bringing people together to raise vital funds.

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