Couple celebrate Kilimanjaro trek success

FOUR years ago she was given just months to live after developing an aggressive form of cancer.

But Shirley White became one of the first patients to benefit from a pioneering new treatment and vowed to help the charity that had saved her life.

Now she and her husband – Hampshire businessman Kelvin White – are celebrating after trekking to the top of Africa’s highest peak.

They were among eight climbers who took more than a week to reach the summit of the 19,340ft Mount Kilimanjaro.

Shirley, 54, made it to the top after watching others turn back. And despite her recent illness she was the only member of the group who managed to avoid altitude sickness.

Kelvin, managing director of the Ringwood-based construction group Raymond Brown, said: “It’s the ultimate test of determination.

“During our final ascent we passed a number of people being escorted back down who had failed to reach the summit.

“Without a doubt, it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done and what everyone forgets to mention is the day-and-a-half trekking back down the mountain.

“The incomparable satisfaction of achieving something on this scale makes all the pain and shortage of breath completely worthwhile.”

The couple, who live in West Moors, Dorset, spent three days above 12,000ft.

Kelvin added: “The landscape is like something from the Planet of the Apes or the surface of the Moon. Nothing grows up there, it’s just a great expanse of volcanic rock – and very cold.”

Their trip has netted £1,600 for Cancer Research UK, taking the total amount they have raised for the charity to more than £10,000.

Shirley, 54, was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in April 2007 and given only a one in ten chance of survival.

However, she received pioneering new treatment as a result of trials conducted by Cancer Research UK six months earlier.

She was given chemotherapy 24 hours a day for four days at a time, plus a stem cell transplant.

Kelvin, 51, added: “Shirley’s medication was fraught with complications and at one point doctors feared she wouldn’t make it through the night.

“But after an intensive seven months in hospital, she was back home and on the road to recovery.”