Since May 2014, customers at Zizzi restaurants across the country have been given a simple option at the end of their meal: if they’re paying by card, they can add 25p to their bill in support of Cancer Research UK.

Cancer Research UK scientist in lab clinical trialIn a little under 4 years, those customers have opted in, and pressed ‘yes’, two and a half million times – raising more than £640,000 in the process.

The world’s largest cancer charity dedicated to saving lives through research, Cancer Research UK’s ambition is to see three-quarters of people surviving the disease within the next 20 years. Despite each contribution being just 25p, every Pennies donation made by a Zizzi customer is helping the charity achieve this goal – and changing the future for people like Nilesh.

Nilesh was diagnosed with kidney cancer in March 2011. Although he’d been experiencing night sweats and has noticed his wee was a darker colour than usual, he didn’t immediately think these were signs of cancer. Then a CT scan revealed what looked like a cyst in his kidney.

After a subsequent biopsy confirmed it was cancer, Nilesh had surgery to remove the kidney and also his spleen, which ruptured during the operation. After surgery, he was told that he had a high chance of the cancer coming back.

At this point, he joined a three-year drug trial, funded by Cancer Research UK, which investigated the best way to reduce the risk of the disease returning:

“Every time I went for a check-up, I’d be worried – but over time I got less anxious. On the trial, I was very well looked-after and I feel I was seen by the best in the world.”

Cancer Research UK beneficiary Nilesh and family

Nilesh (right), with his son Arjun and wife Hina

Today, Nilesh has been told he only has a 10% chance of the cancer coming back, a remarkable change from the diagnosis he received after his initial operation 7 years ago and testament to the importance of such trials. No other charitable organisation has funded more cancer clinical trials in the UK than Cancer Research UK, and donations like those made at Zizzi help make them possible.

In fact, in just a lunchtime, Zizzi customers donate enough via Pennies to cover the cost of a trial for three days. Clinical trials can improve treatments for patients, helping scientists determine ways to stop the disease coming back after surgery – just like they did for Nilesh.

Racking up a remarkable 2,500,000 donations since 2014 is no mean feat, and the collective power of those donations really is huge.

As well as Zizzi’s long-term support, other retailers to have raised funds for Cancer Research UK through Pennies include Travelodge and Rontec. Customers across all these retailers have raised a staggering £850,000 so far, to help beat cancer sooner.

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