A breast consultant will be making the journey from Kent to Kilimanjaro as she takes on an epic climb to the summit of Africa’s highest mountain to help raise funds to purchase new innovative cancer technology to support patients across Kent and Medway.
Consultant Breast and Oncoplastic Surgeon for Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust (MTW), Deepika Akolekar will be setting off to Tanzania this week to start her challenge, aiming to reach the Uhuru peak in eight days – an astonishing 5895m above sea level.
Deepika is part of a group of seven taking on the challenge hoping to raise £150,000, including local MP Tracey Crouch who was cared for by experts at MTW after being diagnosed with breast cancer three years ago.
The money, which will be raised through Breast Cancer Kent, will then go towards purchasing a state-of-the-art machine called the Faxitron which will revolutionise the care for patients on the breast cancer pathway across Kent and Medway, helping to significantly speed up turnaround times for important pathology results.
To ensure every penny of their fundraising challenge goes towards the new equipment, all seven participants have personally covered all the costs of the climb.
Just days before she takes on the mountain – which holds just a 65% success rate for climbers – Deepika said: “As the climb approaches, I feel a mix of excitement and nerves but find solace in knowing that this will make a meaningful difference in early diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer.
“Having never done anything like this before, I decided to take on this monumental challenge of not just climbing the highest single free-standing mountain in the world, but also camping with minimal facilities over eight nights – no showers or make up will take me out of all my comfort zones in every way!
“I started training five months ago and with the help of my colleagues and son, I have put in hours of hilly walks and gym training to improve my fitness levels.
“As well as aiming to help patients across the region, I’m also doing this climb for my amazing Dad who was the inspiration behind me becoming a Consultant Surgeon and I recently lost him to cancer and we couldn’t be prouder of doing this climb for such a worthy cause.”