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Grateful four-time survivor gives back for cancer research

Nov 16, 2020


At age 40, Kathy Funk received her first cancer diagnosis. After hearing the sobering news, she remembers vividly the advice a nurse gave her as she left her doctor’s office: Get over to VCU Massey Cancer Center. Kathy has rarely been so grateful for the advice that saved her life.

“I have had a total of four bouts with cancer,” Kathy said. “Each time, Massey has done what they’ve needed to do to treat and help me heal.”

Kathy and Wayne do not take life for granted. When she was first diagnosed, they were parenting three teenagers and worried about whether Kathy would be around to see them graduate high school, go off to college and start families. Today, she is grateful to have watched her children grow older and she has enthusiastically welcomed eight grandkids, one of whom recently turned 21.

Now, the Funks are eager to give back. In their view, Richmond is lucky to have Massey here in Central Virginia, and the research efforts underway hold the key to better prevention and treatment of cancer.

“Research has come a long way, but we know there are improvements on the horizon,” Wayne said. “Research is the key to it all.”

Last year, Kathy learned she had inherited a gene that gives her a higher risk for several types of cancer and a few other conditions. Knowing this, too, inspired them to want to support research for their family members who may also have the gene.

“We want to improve cancer treatment in the future,” Kathy said. “We want our family to be assured that they don’t have to go through what their mother and grandmother have gone through.”

Kathy and Wayne made their gift unrestricted in order to allow the center’s director, Robert Winn, M.D., to allocate the funds at his discretion to the research and projects with the most promise for improving treatments and care for cancer patients.

“It’s important that those who have been fortunate should give back what they can,” Kathy said. “For us, it’s both a way to thank Massey, but it’s also about ensuring a better future for everybody. We know my treatments benefited from support that funded breakthroughs, and we hope that others will benefit from gifts like ours.”

If you would like to learn more about VCU Massey Cancer Center’s lifesaving work and strategic priorities, contact Martha Quinn, executive director of development for Massey, at 410-274-7871, or

Written by: MCV Foundation

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