Worldwide Cancer Research Menu

Shonagh and Eric Fick walk marathon miles in memory of their mothers

To walk a gruelling 26 miles is no mean feat for anyone. For 63-year-old Shonagh Fick and her 70-year-old husband Eric, the marathon walk was a way to remember their mothers. While doing this, they thought that some good could be done helping fund researchers to find better treatments and cures for the 200 types of cancer today. Signing up with Worldwide Cancer Research was an easy option for them to fundraise for a worthy cause and one that was also close to their hearts.

The couple walked the London Marathon this year and raised almost £1400 for the charity. They did this in honour of their mothers who both had breast cancer.

"2018 has been a significant year for us," says Shonagh. "Eric turned 70 and we realised that it's been exactly 20 years since both our mothers passed away. We had always wanted to fundraise together and we decided that this was our year - before Eric gets too ancient!"

“My mother, Jess, died of breast cancer. She had been living with cancer for 20 years and went through operations, radiotherapy and chemotherapy but succumbed in 1998. Eric's mother, Joan, died the same year. She had also lived with breast cancer but had refused chemotherapy after her mastectomy and ended up dying from senile dementia. 

"Although their stories were completely different, they had both suffered from the same horrendous disease and that's why we chose to support a cancer charity.  As with all families, we have several cancer stories as well as many friends affected by it. Cancer has no boundaries so the sooner scientists can find cures and treatments, the better."

Shonagh and Eric, who live in Kent, signed up for a walking marathon and underwent a rigorous training regime.

"We trained for four months following a training schedule provided by Discovery Adventures,” explains Shonagh. “People of our age need to put in the training to achieve a challenge such as this. We had terrific support and encouragement, both from the marathon organisers and also from Worldwide Cancer Research.  This made a huge difference - we felt we weren't alone.  I wrote a weekly blog on the JustGiving page, popping in photographs and trying to keep our financial supporters interested too."   

The couple's hard work paid off as they managed to complete the walk in eight hours 40 minutes - quicker than their target time.

"We would have been delighted to do it in under nine hours so we were thrilled with our final timing," says Shonagh. "And that was after a bit of a setback!"

About nine miles into the walk, Shonagh slipped on a wet manhole cover and broke her finger.

"It had been raining non-stop all day and I couldn't believe it when I slipped so early into the walk," she says.  "The other walkers around us were so supportive and scooped me up and strapped up my hand as best as they could. There were no medics on hand at the time and although I was in pain, I had to keep going. A broken finger was not going to stop this girl finishing! I swallowed some painkillers and kept walking."

Even with Shonagh's fall, the couple managed to complete the walk well within their desired time and celebrated that evening in London with their family who had come to support them.

"We're so elated to have raised money for such a worthy cause and to celebrate the lives of two amazing women."

"They were both inspirational to us on how to fight adversity and not let it get the better of you. Always making a plan for the future and praying that a cure would be found in time. In our family, we have had many brushes with this horrendous disease. It can attack anyone at any time. I'm delighted that our money will go towards scientists’ research to keep fighting for a cure for us all."

We are so grateful to Shonagh and Eric for all their hard work training and walking the marathon. They have raised a fantastic amount which will go towards supporting pioneering cancer research projects in the UK and around the world. If you have been inspired to fundraise for us, please click here for lots of ideas to kick-start your charity challenge.

Ravi Ettadi Raised over £3,000 for Worldwide Cancer Research Climbing Kilimanjaro

An arduous four-day ascent with very little oxygen and with no access to hot water doesn’t sound like many people’s idea of fun but for Ravi Ettadi, his Mount Kilimanjaro trek was about more than that. It was a way to help.

The 45-year-old climbed the famous dormant volcano last year and raised over £3000 for Worldwide Cancer Research, meaning that his money would go directly to scientists all across the world to help find cures and treatments for the many types of cancer there are today.

“I’m lucky in that I don’t have any close family or friends who have been diagnosed with cancer but I know I am in the minority,” he says. “I’ve been reading about the devastating effects of cancer since I was a boy and I wanted to do something. Although our technology is so advanced, we still don’t have the upper hand on cancer. Tremendous progress has been made but people are still dying. There is so much still to be done and I wanted to do my part.”

Helping to find cures and treatments for more than 200 types of cancer was always at the forefront of Ravi’s mind but there was something else that appealed to him about the charity.

“What struck me about Worldwide Cancer Research is that the research is not confined to one place,” he says. “I want to help projects all around the world and this charity understands that the life-saving research can come from any country, by any scientist all over the world. I am from India and have many friends all around the globe so it was important for me to support something for was international and where the money doesn’t stay in the UK. If even £1 of my funds goes to a scientist in an underdeveloped country, then I’ll be happy.”

Ravi, who lives in Barking, London, wanted to raise money for charity while doing something he was passionate about.

“I decided I wanted to have some adventures when I hit 40. It wasn’t a midlife crisis, exactly, but I wanted to go something memorable. I tried scuba diving, swimming between continents and skydiving, which were all fantastic but, as I sit at a desk all day in my IT job, I felt I wanted something to challenge me physically. Once I decided on Kilimanjaro, I paid for the actual trip out of my own pocket. I didn’t want to take any money out of the charity pot I raised so that every penny went directly to Worldwide Cancer Research and the amazing scientists.

“The trek itself was gruelling. Before I went, I attempted a walk from London to Brighton which was the longest walk I have done in one go. It took me 11 hours and 40 minutes and once I passed 40km, I opened my shoes to see the two biggest blisters I have ever seen.

“I walked 16km with the blisters to complete my goal and thought, ‘well, if I can walk with this pain, I’m sure I can climb Kilimanjaro’! The first three days of being on the trek were enjoyable but it gets worse as you climb higher. By day four, you reach base camp and have a short three-hour sleep before waking at midnight to climb to the summit. At that point, it doesn’t feel like there is enough oxygen and I did struggle. My brain knew what to do but my body didn’t want to listen. There were 19 people in my team and only two had to give up. I was the skinniest and with the lowest weight but I did it."

For Ravi, one of the best things to come out of his fundraising efforts, besides the money he raised, was passing on his passion to his 11-year-old daughter, Manasvi. He says: “I have completed a few walks for Worldwide Cancer Research as well as the Kilimanjaro climb and my wife and daughter completed the 20k Winter Walk Challenge with me. After that, my daughter decided she wanted to do something herself and completed the 25k Easter Walk and she raised £400 for Worldwide Cancer Research on her own. Before the walk, she was actually ill with a fever but was determined to complete it no matter what. I'm so proud to have passed on my passion for fundraising and helping others to her. She wants to do even bigger challenges but I've told her she has to wait until she's older.”

Ravi has now set his sights even higher and says he would love to tackle Everest base camp next year.

“A couple of moments have really stood out for me in my fundraising journey,” he says. “Before Kilimanjaro, I was training in my local park and a couple of older people saw me every morning and always asked why I was walking so much. I explained that I was training to climb Kilimanjaro for charity and the man immediately handed me £20. It gave me goosebumps that this older man, who I don't think had a lot of money, was willing to donate so quickly despite not knowing me. My daughter also told me she wanted to donate her £10 pocket money instead of buying a new toy. That was so touching. It's so joyful when someone donates when you don't expect it and if I can inspire one person with my story, I will be delighted."

If you would like to make a donation to Worldwide Cancer Research, please click here.

Kind-hearted brothers raise £20,000 for Worldwide Cancer Research in memory of stepdad

Losing a loved one to cancer can leave many people feeling helpless. Steve and Kevin Parker, however, were determined to do something positive following the death of their beloved stepdad Mike. Between them, the brothers raised over £20,000 for Worldwide Cancer Research.

“Between us, we had lost several friends and relatives to various types of cancer,” says Steve. “When we found out that our stepdad was dying of bowel cancer, we knew we needed to do something to help. We took Mike out for a drink and told him we would be running the London Marathon to help raise money for a cure, not just for bowel cancer but for the hundreds of different types of cancer there are. That’s why Worldwide Cancer Research hit home for us, as by donating to them the money goes directly to scientists across the globe to help find cures and treatments for all cancer types.”

The brothers’ stepdad, Michael Fryer, was diagnosed with bowel cancer which then spread to his liver and elsewhere. He was given six months to live and died at the age of 77. Although completing the London Marathon is an excellent achievement, Steve (47) and Kevin (44) were astounded to raise so much money from their various fundraising efforts.

“When we were accepted to run the marathon for Worldwide Cancer Research, I sat down with my brother and we came up with ideas to raise as much money as possible,” says Steve. “We wanted to do something really positive. I work in finance and I persuaded the other managers to shave their heads with me – that raised £5,000 alone which was our initial overall target!

“We hosted a band night, a horseracing night, raffles and cake sales and, of course, the marathon itself. We kept pushing ourselves to raise as much money as possible and it really paid off.”

The hard work did not go unnoticed and the team at Worldwide Cancer Research invited the family, from Bristol, to one of the research centres to see what their money was being used for.

“It was such an incredible day to see what our money would be used to do, it really cemented everything we did,” says Steve. “It’s always great to give to charities but to actually see for yourself the scientists working in the lab and using equipment that you helped to pay for is pretty incredible.”

The brothers and their families have raised just over £20,000 for the charity and are showing no signs of stopping.

“We’ve had everyone involved – including our wives and kids – and it’s a great experience to know that you’re doing something good for an amazing cause,” says Steve. “We put on an 80s disco in March to raise money and I am planning on doing the Great North Run, it’s definitely an ongoing thing. I would love to run the London Marathon again to beat my time of four and a half hours and would, of course, try to raise more money for Worldwide Cancer Research.”

It’s people like Steve and Kevin who are helping to find cures and treatments for the hundreds of types of cancers that claim thousands of lives a year - lives like Mike’s.

“We want to remember everyone and help fight this for future generations,” says Steve. “It was really nice for our mum, Lyn, to see us really go for it and raise so much money. It was an emotional time for everyone and I’m really proud of what we’ve achieved. I know Mike would be too.”

If you would like to make a donation to Worldwide Cancer Research, please click here.

Andrew Graham raises £50,000 for Worldwide Cancer Research after dentist discovers life-threatening cancer in his throat

Some people dread a visit to the dentist but for Andrew Graham it turned out to be a life-saving experience. The former cancer patient was rushed into hospital for an emergency operation after a routine dental appointment revealed he had throat cancer. After being given a second chance at life, he now devotes his spare time to Worldwide Cancer Research, raising over £50,000 to help fund pioneering research projects in the UK and across the world.

It was nearly 20 years ago when he visited his family dentist, who spotted something he didn't like the look of in Andrew's throat. After meeting with a consultant, Andrew was kept under observation for two years. It took another dental appointment for doctors to realise the seriousness of his condition.

"After our family dentist had spotted something in my throat the first time, I was referred to a consultant but given the all-clear," says Andrew. "I remember him saying, 'this has as much chance of being cancer as you have of winning the lottery’. For the next three years, I didn't know anything was wrong until I visited the dentist again and he insisted I get a second opinion."

The second opinion turned out to be life-saving one for Andrew with the second consultant rushing him to the operating room the very next weekend. "I was told that if I didn't have the operation immediately, I would have three months to live,” says Andrew. “In hindsight it feels like I did win the lottery and it's because of my dentist that I'm still here."

After a gruelling nine-hour operation where part of his tongue, glands and jaw were removed, Andrew came out the other end cancer-free. "I had 27 members of the surgical team working on me for nine hours," he says. "It was a huge operation and I have been very fortunate. A lot of people I met during the time of my treatment are no longer here today so I know I'm very lucky."

Andrew set his focus on returning home to his wife and children in time for his son's third birthday. With a stomach feeding tube fitted, over 200 staples in his head, neck and arm, tracheotomy closed up, Andrew was well enough to return home after eight days.

"My cancer experienced spurred me on to do something positive and raise money to help develop better treatments for cancer patients now and in the future. My children, Sarah and James, were two and five at the time so I needed to set a good example to them."

"I really wanted to make a difference and to help scientists find new treatments and cures. I'd like to help someone discover something to stop the suffering altogether. When I first started to fundraise, I visited a children's hospice and when I saw those ill children I just knew I wanted to help. The best thing I can do is to help the research and so far I've raised over £50,000 for Worldwide Cancer Research. I intend to keep going for as long as I am healthy."

Andrew's latest fundraising idea is to virtually run the whole circumference of the globe – 24,900 miles. "The globe run is a massive personal challenge for me," he says. "It's a virtual run as actually running around the globe would be a logistical nightmare. I'm still on a variety of medications as a result of the radiotherapy so it just wouldn't be feasible. I also don't think it would be fair on my wife, Penny, for me to swan off around the world for several years! So instead, I'm running the distance by trying to complete a half marathon a day (on average) and each year I will work out where in the world I would have run to based on the miles I've covered and will visit that country for a holiday and to add more to my miles. I started in March and have now run over 1000 miles. The running side is easy but planning can be tough. I own my own business as well as being a director at Hereford Football Club so it's just finding time to squeeze it all in."

For Andrew, his two proudest moments where when his children - now aged 21 and 19 - both ran the London Marathon with him as soon as they were able to. "When Sarah turned 18, one of the first things she did was sign up to run the marathon with me for Worldwide Cancer Research and when James turned 18, he did the same. Crossing the finishing line with them were two of the best moments of my life. My experience has definitely made me stronger and I'm so glad to have been able to set such a good example to my children and pass on my love of fundraising, thanks to Worldwide Cancer Research.

The incredible amount that Andrew has raised for Worldwide Cancer Research will support the world’s best researchers and allow them to discover new, better ways to diagnose, prevent and treat cancer.

Every penny counts. With your support, there will be a day when no life is cut short by cancer. The more research you help us fund, the sooner that day will come. Without you, there would be no answers.

If you would like to make a donation to Worldwide Cancer Research, please click here.

Drew Heatley raises £4,000 for Worldwide Cancer Research in hottest ever London Marathon

A lot of people might shudder at the thought of running 26 miles during a heatwave but one determined man wasn’t going to let passing out stop him from completing a marathon.

Drew Heatley of Leyton, East London collapsed due to heat exhaustion while competing in this year’s London Marathon to raise cash for Worldwide Cancer Research.

Three months on, the 31-year-old is speaking out about the driving force behind his will to finish the race – his late mum Christine whom he lost to cancer in 2012.

And the runner who raised more than £4,000 for the charity is keen to encourage others to donate to help find the cures for cancer.

This year’s event, held on April 22, was the hottest on record, with runners competing in temperatures reaching 23.2C.

“If Mum was here she would find it amazing that I’ve achieved it,” said Drew.

After being diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2009, Mrs Heatley received chemotherapy and beat it before it returned in 2011, spreading to her bones.

Drew started running after his mother’s diagnosis, as a form of therapy, and after her death he decided to use his fitness to benefit others.

“I felt I had to contribute in some way to help save future lives and what struck me about Worldwide Cancer Research was the science aspect.” he said.

“These amazing scientists all over the world need to be able to make progress and find new cures and treatments and they can only do that with funding through the charity. I felt I had to do my bit.”

But with just one mile to go, Mr Heatley thought all his efforts were about to be wasted when his legs gave way.

“I had completely overheated and had a body temperature of 39 degrees,” he said. “I really thought I’d blown it.”

Thanks to help from a medical team and his wife Emily, he eventually made it across the finishing line after a gruelling five hours and 13 minutes, which, he believes, would make his mum “burst with pride”.

He added: “I wasn’t sure I could get back up again but I thought of mum and all the people who had sponsored me and I knew I had to finish. I needed that medal so I walked the last 600 metres.”

Although Drew admits it was a tough day for him, he hasn’t let the ordeal put him off running and hopes to complete another marathon next year – but this time in autumn or winter.

If you would like to make a donation to Worldwide Cancer Research, please click here.