Annette and Nick Razey: “Even since my diagnosis, the development of treatments has been astounding”

Cancer Research UK

Thanks to the visionary philanthropy of three of our closest supporters, we're now able to match pound for pound every £100k+ gift we receive through a special £1.6m challenge fund. Here, long-term friends of Cancer Research UK, Annette and Nick Razey, tell us why they were inspired to double the impact of their support by taking advantage of this exciting opportunity.

What does philanthropy mean to you?

ANNETTE: I think we have a duty of care to use our resources to help others. That resource can be time, effort or expertise, as well as money. My philosophy is that we should aim to enable future generations who encounter diseases like cancer to have a better life experience.

Why did you choose to support our work?

ANNETTE: We’ve had people we love experience and die from various types of cancer. And as Cancer Research UK supports research into all cancers, our donation is used where the need is greatest.

NICK: The thing about cancer is that it’s everywhere and everyone knows someone who’s been affected by it. But medical research is astonishing and it’s progressing so quickly. I’ve had cancer for several years and even in that time, medicine has moved forward. So I really do have hope that things are going to change – and change quickly. For example, life expectancy is often given as a percentage chance of living for five years or more, but that’s based on backwards-looking statistics and in five years those numbers will sometimes improve dramatically. I just feel that, with cancer, it’s going somewhere. We’re getting there slowly, but we’re winning the battle.

What are your hopes for the future of cancer research?

ANNETTE: My mother died from breast cancer when she was 44 – and there was no chemotherapy in those days. The therapies we have today seem to have been around forever, but they just weren’t there in the 1960s and it’s astonishing to see the difference they’ve made. But having seen Nick go through chemo, one of my hopes would be to see a reduction in the nasty side effects that come hand in hand with new and effective drugs.

I’m also interested in how different fields of research can now be applied to cancer, such as genetics, and the development in cancer vaccines and simpler diagnostic tests that can be done in a GP surgery, as some people are a bit squeamish about hospitals and tests.

How has your personal experience of cancer motivated you?

NICK: I’ve been going to the Royal Marsden Hospital in Sutton for a couple of years and the place is amazing. The nurses are so positive that it’s actually quite a happy place. You think it’s going to be doom and gloom, but I come out of there in a good mood. There’s no such thing as a good cancer experience, but I feel I’ve been lucky. And even since my diagnosis, the development of treatments has been astounding. I’m going to have to live with fear in the back of my mind for the rest of my life, but science is constantly progressing, which means my chances get better and better every year. So I’m relatively optimistic.

What was it about our Challenge Fund that inspired you to give?

NICK: Knowing that our money would be matched is just a great way of doubling the impact of our gift. It’s a clever way of getting good bang for your buck.

To find out more about our Challenge Fund, email philanthropy@cancer.org.uk

Interview by Edward Bowers, philanthropy communications executive