“When my beautiful mother was diagnosed with cancer it shook our world.”

Lorna climbed mount Kilimanjaro to thank cancer charity for mum Harbhajan Kaur’s care (Credit: Macmillan Cancer Support)

The daughter of a cancer patient has raised more than £7,000 for Macmillan Cancer Support by trekking to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro – as a way to say thank you for the care her mum received at a Birmingham hospital.

Lorna Nanda Gangotra, aged 47, a chef and founder of the award-winning Lorna’s Indian Kitchen, carried out the gruelling challenge in support of Macmillan cancer nurses working at City Hospital.

Lorna, from Addlestone, Surrey and her mum Harbhajan Kaur, from Handsworth Wood, visited the hospital with their family to pay tribute to the Macmillan nurse, Catherine Spencer and her team and present them with the £7,046 raised for the charity.

Lorna said: “When my beautiful mother was diagnosed with cancer it shook our world. Her symptoms were initially very difficult to control so it was a rather frightening and uncertain time. But thanks to the wonderful care and treatment she received from Catherine and the fantastic team at City Hospital, she eventually came through.

“When I decided to take on this challenge, I asked mum who I should support and ’Macmillan’ was the first word she said, without hesitation. That’s why we wanted to come back and say thank you in person to Catherine and the charity now that I’ve completed the trek.”

Lorna’s family have had a painful history of cancer recently having lost her auntie to liver cancer in June last year, just two weeks after her diagnosis, and Lorna’s sister is also going through her own cancer journey at the moment.

Lorna added: “There is a saying – ‘If you can’t see it, you can’t be it’. This is why as a British, South Asian woman of Punjabi heritage I want to share my family’s experience of cancer and the support that is out there, within my community, where awareness of Macmillan Cancer Support isn’t as widespread.

“People from my community can often feel embarrassed or ashamed about the word ‘cancer’ or the symptoms they may have so do not talk to anyone about it or visit the GP when they should or seek the support they need. I want them to know they can call Macmillan.

“The same is true with climbing Kilimanjaro. If more people can see me climb the highest mountain in Africa for charity, they may be inspired to do the same.

Lorna with her mum, Harbhajan Kaur and family presenting donation to Catherine Spencer, Macmillan Clinical Nurse Specialist Gynaecological Oncology from City Hospital and the team (Credit: Macmillan Cancer Support)

“I do not have the right words to express my gratitude as to how Macmillan Cancer Support helped my mum and my family get through her cancer journey at the time, and they still do, to this day. Sometimes these charities can all seem a bit abstract and not real life, but just know, the work these people do is incredible and really does matter.”

Catherine Spencer, Macmillan Clinical Nurse Specialist for Gynaecological Oncology at Sandwell and West Birmingham NHS Trust which runs City Hospital, said: “We are enormously grateful to Lorna for her incredible achievement in trekking up Mount Kilimanjaro and raising such a huge sum of money for Macmillan.

“In the last few years Macmillan has supported us with additional funding which has led to the appointment of Lorraine, our new Macmillan Cancer Care Navigator. This role has meant we can offer wider holistic support for those affected by gynaecological cancer. It could only happen with the huge efforts of our donors. We’d like to thank Lorna for her generosity.”

Pauline Lewis, Macmillan Senior Relationship Fundraising Manager in the West Midlands added: “It was so touching to see Harbhajan reunited with the nurses who supported her through her cancer journey in 2017.

“We are so grateful to Lorna for taking on this incredible challenge and raising much needed money for Macmillan to help us provide practical, emotional, and financial support to people living with cancer particularly at this time with the added burden of the current cost of living crisis.

“Lorna’s enthusiasm and drive has been an inspiration to us all and we look forward to working with her to help raise further awareness of Macmillan services particularly in the South Asian community. As well as our incredible nurses and cancer care navigators, we have a support line open seven days a week and a website with clear information on all types of cancer and treatments.”

Macmillan Cancer Support rely almost entirely on public donations to make a difference to people living with cancer, from the moment they are diagnosed.