Cancertalk Week

Dates and events to inspire assemblies

Dorothy Lepkowska

What's it all about?

Cancertalk Week, January 19-23, is organised by Macmillan Cancer Support to help schools tackle the difficult and sensitive subject of cancer. Whether it affects pupils, their parents or staff, no school will remain untouched by the illness.

Assembly ideas

An assembly can be held on any day during the week.

With primary children you can begin by talking about their bodies; learn about different parts of the body and what their organs do, and discuss the need to stay healthy by eating well and taking exercise.

Explain that it is not the fault of people who become sick; it is important to be kind and supportive, and to treat them just as nicely as always. Explain that sometimes people who are affected may feel tired or look different because of the effects of their treatment, but they are still their friend or teacher.

With secondary children you can explore lifestyle choices such as smoking, drugs and alcohol, and how the chances of developing cancer can be reduced.

Whatever the age group, be sensitive to the fact that some children will be affected personally. If appropriate, you might consider the possibility of giving them a role in your assembly by asking them to talk about their experiences and thoughts.

Help, I've got no time to prepare

Cancertalk has its own dedicated website at It is full of facts, games, classroom activities and real-life experiences that you can draw on, which are relevant and appropriate to all key stages. It also has a list of questions frequently asked by children about cancer.

Where do I go for more information? has produced a guide jointly with the Royal Marsden Hospital on how to approach cancer in schools. Also visit

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Dorothy Lepkowska

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