Cancer survivor and the doctor that saved him climb Mount Kilimanjaro together


Four years ago, Ken Brown, of Chicago, received news that would change his life forever.

He was told he had a five percent chance of survival after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, WGN reported.

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But Brown wasn’t alone. He had the help of Dr. Malcom Bilimoria, who was able to help cure Brown of his life-threatening disease.

“I could see when I first met Ken, he was a lot like the patients I see in the clinic, a real fighter,” Dr. Bilimoria said.

Last month, in a celebration of his cancer-free status, Brown and Dr. Bilimoria set off to beat another record -- scaling the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania.

“I think it was just meant to be,” Brown said, noting that he didn’t really care about whether or not he reached the top. “I have already hiked the tallest mountain that anyone could possibly hike, pancreatic cancer, with Dr. Bilimoria’s help.”

Brown and Bilimoria’s adventure came to fruition after the two had a conversation about their past and planned travels. Bilimoria told Brown about a planned trip Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania with a group of eight others, including fellow doctors and their friends.

“I said, ‘You can’t go without me. That’s my dream,’” Brown told his doctor.

Brown had been wanting to climb Kilimanjaro -- the highest mountain in Africa -- since he went on a safari in 2011. From afar, he snapped a photo to the mountain and kept it in his office for years as a reminder of his goal.

In the days after that conversation with his doctor, Brown started to give a trip to Kilimanjaro more serious thought, getting some encouragement from his daughter-in-law.

Brown and Bilimoria ultimately went on the trip and finished up their journey on Oct. 12. Though Brown didn’t make it to the top due to a health issue unrelated to his previous cancer, he was delighted to have had the opportunity to camp under the stars.

“I shouldn’t have been here. I just spent six days getting to know the man who saved my life, and I just also had the opportunity to see sights no one else can see at night,” Brown said, according to WGN. “I feel like I can reach out and touch the stars.”

Bilimoria hopes the trip will serve as inspiration for other people affected by serious illnesses.

“Not only was it great to be able to spend time with (Brown), but it would be great to show other patients that this is what you can do,” Bilimoria told WGN.

See more at WGN.

Brianna Chambers contributed to this report.


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