Help Ray fight cancer

$88,827 of $150,000 goal

Raised by 679 people in 7 months
Created November 20, 2018
Fundraising Team
on behalf of David Ribble
Ray Donnelly, our friend and co-worker, was diagnosed with stage 4 metastatic colon cancer in March 2018.  Ray comes from a large Northern Irish family with 3 sisters and 2 brothers and married Pam, his girlfriend (and now caretaker) of 17 years in September of this year in Copenhagen.  You may know Ray better by his online alias, mingwandroid , which you’ll find sprinkled around hundreds of open source projects  that Ray has contributed to.  As a self-described “recovering games programmer who loves tinkering with compilers, build systems, and all things open source,” Ray’s contributions are multitudinous and impactful.  From MSYS2 to Anaconda, Ray has pushed back the frontier of software, helping to unify capabilities across platforms and provide the very latest functionality, speed, and security.

Ray ported Python so that it could be cross-compiled using MinGW-w64/GCC to be hosted on Windows, built on GNU/Linux as part of a complete toolchain build for final embedding into GDB. This was a requirement for Qt Creator debuggers to work correctly.  He then released his own version of the Google Android NDK using the above GDB/Python work. These were the first NDK toolchains released to run natively on Windows (rather than being Cygwin based), to support ARM Neon and to be based on the Linaro Android GCC sources. Subsequently this work, including the Python port was merged to Google's upstream Android source code repositories.  

Ray co-founded the MSYS2 project. The project ported ArchLinux's Pacman to Windows and maintains 'PKGBUILD' recipes and patches for more than 1000 Open Source software packages. MSYS2 is now the recommended upstream or build environment for many Open Source projects, Git for Windows, Rust, The Glasgow Haskell Compiler, Gnome and KiCad among them.   

Since joining Anaconda, Inc. in February 2016, Ray has done a huge amount of work to propel the Anaconda Distribution forward.  Most notably, he was responsible for the great leap forward in our compilers with the Anaconda Distribution 5.0 release. In case you missed it, this blog post  highlighted the performance and security improvements.  Ray managed to wear out his keyboard from the amount of effort he put into the Anaconda Distribution 5.0 release! Ray is responsible for the development of the R and MRO conda packages.  He is also the one the Anaconda Distribution team relies on whenever it comes to tricky compiler issues.  On many occasions, he has tracked a tricky bug into assembly code and fixed it. He has made numerous patches to address CVE vulnerabilities.  He has managed to jump through crazy hoops at times to ensure that the Anaconda Distribution remains compatible with the widest range of systems and hardware. Whatever the challenge, he has remained a critical member of the team who supports his fellow teammates.  

In spite of his remarkable ability and contributions, Ray is very humble, hardworking and affable.  Despite his daunting condition, he remains upbeat and incredibly dedicated to continuing his work and open-source contributions.  

Ray has undergone treatment in the UK since his diagnosis in March.  Unfortunately, the doctors there believed operating on Ray’s tumors would be too risky to attempt.  Ray obtained a second opinion at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, TX, where they believe surgery is both possible and advisable.  Here’s the catch: with immigration laws and health insurance policies, we can’t get Ray covered for his operation to happen at M.D. Anderson.  To give Ray the best chance at surviving this, we want to pitch in and help him obtain the best care possible.

Since he has given so much to the Anaconda community and the broader open source community - we want to give others the opportunity to help him as well.  In recognition of Ray’s vast contributions to our community, and in the hopes of helping him beat cancer, please join us in contributing towards his treatment.  Contributions here will be matched 1:1 up to $50,000 by Anaconda, Inc.  Ray has an immediate need for funds leading to surgery in the beginning of December, and will have an ongoing need for continuing treatment afterwards.
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I forgot to say in the update: Many thanks to everyone at NatWest for all their fund-raising events. We really appreciate all your efforts and were touched by your donation, and sorry all for the 2nd message today!
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Hello everyone.

It’s been a while since we posted an update. I wanted to leave it until after my 3 month scan; more on that later. These last few weeks I’ve been staying with my family in Manchester, and nervously keeping a low profile. They’ve looked after me very well, I suspect because they know I’m not much good at looking after myself. Thanks, I love you all very much.

Since Feb 10th Pam and I have been in Andalusia, Southern Spain. We’d like to say a huge thanks to our friends Justin and Melanie for letting us use their place, it was just what we needed and the timing couldn’t have been better. It was great to take off from Snowy Manchester and land in Sunny Spain. The weather, air quality and scenery are lovely, and the pace of life relaxed. I am trying to learn to speak Spanish as best I can (a mix of quiz shows and lessons so far). We have been trying to enjoy as much of Andalusia as we can and have visited some great places including the film set where many Spaghetti Westerns were shot (see pictures below).

We have found a local support network there - the MACS cancer support charity (special mention to Fran, Shannon and everyone at MACS). They have been really nice and it had been great to have spend time with them all. It has been a big help to find such a supportive and helpful charity in the local area. Their website is at

Apart from going to some support meetings, I’ve enjoyed not thinking about cancer so frequently and getting stuck into my work again as best I can. One thing I will say, that may be useful to some is that you should clear your work inbox before going in for a big operation, then, when you are recovering you should avoid working in dribs and drabs as and when you feel well enough to lift a laptop. It create problems integrating that work later. I hope to get settled into a more regular work pattern sometime.

I've been doing as much as I can to try to ward off cancer including switching to a ketogenic diet ( This is a high fat, adequate protein, ultra low carb + sugar diet for which there's good evidence of it slowing cancer progression in animals (it can be tricky to run dietary studies in humans); the theory goes (roughly!) when the body goes into ketogenic mode (using stored fat for fuel rather than sugar) the cancer cells are denied their main source of fuel to grow - sugar (cancer is really good at eating sugar, that’s why radioactive glucose is used to locate it) and they are too damaged to get energy from the ketones (which are generated from the stored fat). I hope it has helped because I do miss chocolate brownies and caramel shortcake a little bit. Pam can probably make me a pretty good keto-friendly cheesecake though, she made some keto-friendly pancakes that were delicious!

And now the hard bit. Unfortunately I have bad news to report from the 3 month scan; cancer has regrown in my para-aortic lymph nodes (the colon and liver look to be OK though). We are obviously very upset, and trying to figure out what to do next. Manchester NHS/Christie are not willing/able to offer radiotherapy (SABR) because I have 4 lymph nodes involved and they do not offer it when there are more than 3 sites of disease. Instead, they are willing to give me more chemotherapy, though they have also promised to review it depending on how much the chemotherapy shrinks the tumors.

So the current plan is for me to go back onto chemotherapy as soon as possible (booked for 30th May) whilst exploring private options for radiotherapy and hoping that the chemo, radical diets and supplements do a good job in the mean-time.

I hope to have another update for you soon when we have a plan of action for the coming months. Thanks for all your continued support and good wishes - as always it means so much to us.

Lots of love,

Ray and Pam.
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Hi all,

We're back in the UK now; (I use semicolons with a wry smirk nowadays given the nature of the operation) touched down to a snowy Manchester airport in a fog so thick the runway literally hit us by surprise, oh well less time to be nervous about the landing I suppose!

This photo and update is dedicated to our wonderful Houston hosts, Joyce and Neal Sarahan and the whole Sarahan clan. You lot are awesome. From left to right, baby Eric, Kari (mother of Eric and Ivy, wife of Mike knitter of the fantastic matching pirate hats), Mike (who was instrumental in kick starting - sorry GoFundMe - this campaign, my wonderful wife who's given up so much to care for me, some ejit undeserving of all of your kindness, Joyce, truly endlessly generous with her time, organizational skills, car, advice and moral support, Neal, with his constant upbeat humor, sage advice and who also shared his crossroads with us, going as far as pretending he didn't already know all the answers, and finally Larry, who's life is about to get very busy but still had time to help us out.

I also got to spend a week with my colleagues in Austin and they continue to amaze me. When I respond to the occasional recruiter on LinkedIn my response is completely honest: "thanks but no thanks, I already work for the best company in the world".

I met my Manchester oncologist yesterday and he concurred with the MD Anderson team regarding the future treatment plan which involves not having chemotherapy for a while longer (how I wish and hope this would be forever) and having regular scans to check on my status.

Soon we will go to Spain for a few months, avoiding this weather and the endless Brexit talk. Our good friends Mel and Justin are letting us use their holiday home to relax in and plan our next steps, though in all honesty this disease does much of the planning for you and all you can do is react as best you can.

Hoping you all have wonderful 2019s and beyond!

Love Pam & Ray.
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Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays everyone.

Thanks for all of your support!
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$88,827 of $150,000 goal

Raised by 679 people in 7 months
Created November 20, 2018
Fundraising Team
on behalf of David Ribble
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