Kaleigh’s Mount Kilimanjaro climb!

In February 2010 my whole world was turned upside down when I was diagnosed with Stage 2b Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. As a healthy and very active 23 year old, I found the adjustment from good health to a very unwell young lady difficult. While everything around me changed, one thing that didn’t was Global Personals and the people I worked with. Although I was off work, the open-door policy set by management allowed me to stay in touch with normality as much as possible.

I undertook 10 months of intensive treatment including 7 months of chemotherapy and in November 2010 I was told I had achieved remission. As you can imagine, this was a huge relief for both me and everyone around me. As that chapter closed, I couldn’t help but feel there was more I could be doing to help others in a similar situation. So, over Christmas dinner and too much champagne we discussed challenges I could take on, Mount Kilimanjaro being one of them.

Fast forward a very irrational decision and 13 months, I was stood at Heathrow airport with 28 strangers ready to embark on a new challenge. The journey there was spent sleeping as I knew I would achieve very little for the next week. We were then separated in to two’s and introduced to my tent buddies. We were advised to spend a little time getting to know them as they would help you through the week.

The first two days were long but very enjoyable walks through the rain forest with everyone on high spirits. It was a very different story when we awoke the next day. The temperature at night had dropped to -20 degrees and people had begun to feel the affect of Acute Mountain Sickness. I struggled to see how I would tackle the next 10 hours walking after 2 hours sleep and being sick 12 times before breakfast. The only thing that kept me going was the generosity of the people who had donated!

From the fourth day the air was noticeably thinner, the smallest tasks left you breathless so energy is low and you experience massive appetite loss. Even the largest men were having difficulty consuming more than a bowl of soup! Team morale was very low and the group tended to head to bed early due to sheer exhaustion. Fast forward another couple of days of strenuous hiking and horrific sickness, I found myself layering all of my clothes in preparation for summit night!

The nerves and anxiety I experienced that evening were like nothing I had ever felt before and the guide advised us, “When you felt like you want to give up, think of the reasons you are here and take another step!” We set off at midnight in -20 degrees with high speed winds that would very easily take you off your feet if you didn’t have your walking poles. For the next 6 and a half hours we walked in pitch black, with only the person’s feet in front of you as a guide, my water had frozen even though I had purchased a thermal insulator and the pressure your body feels actually hurts. The sun rose at 6.45am and I knew I could make it, even if it was another 3 hours away.

At 9.35am I reach Uhuru Peak, the world’s highest freestanding mountain…all on a cereal bar!

In total I raised over £6,000 for Macmillan Cancer Support and the team total currently stands at £137,030. Massive thanks to Global Personals and everyone who donated. You can visit my fundraising page, which will finish on 29th March:.

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