Edinburgh Cancer Research

New Zealand women complete the Dundee Virtual Kiltwalk while UK sleeps

Jane and Elspeth Ludemann walked up the Signal Hill in Dunedin, New Zealand to support our ovarian cancer research: July 2020

While Scotland slept on Thursday night, two women finished the virtual Dundee Kiltwalk almost as far from the city as it is possible to get.

Jane Ludemann and her mother Elspeth walked up Signal Hill in Dunedin, New Zealand, three times. They began at 9:30am on Friday the 3rd of July New Zealand time, which is 10:30pm on Thursday GMT.

Signal Hill is 393 metres (1289 feet) high and they chose this hill because the monument at its summit is hewn from the rock on which Edinburgh Castle stands and they completed the Kiltwalk to raise money for research into low grade serous ovarian carcinoma (LGSOC) at Edinburgh University.

When Jane was diagnosed with this rare form of cancer at the age of 32, three years ago, she discovered that there was very little research on the disease and no obvious way to fund research into it anywhere in the world.

That spurred her to establish Cure Our Ovarian Cancer, a charitable trust dedicated to increasing awareness of LGSOC, supporting women with the disease and raising funds for research into better treatments and an eventual cure. The University of Edinburgh is their UK charity partner. Cure Our Ovarian Cancer hopes to part fund a researcher at the University of Edinburgh to develop better laboratory models of the cancer to help find new treatments. Since 2019 they’ve raised over £10 000 of their £25 000 target.

“University of Edinburgh’s Professor Charlie Gourley has provided national leadership of low-grade serous clinical trials in the UK.  Furthermore the work of his research team is world renowned. Historically low-grade serous ovarian cancer has been overlooked. It disproportionately affects young women and the overall survival rates are really poor. It’s really confronting to stare death in the face at such a young age. If I don’t survive, the thing I want most in the world is to know this won’t happen to someone else. Knowing that Professor Gourley is on the other side of the world, working hard to improve survival, makes life that bit easier”, said Jane. 

Elspeth said that when Jane was diagnosed she and her husband Grant said they would do anything they could to help her.

“I didn’t think that would entail climbing a steep hill three times, but thankfully the Kiltwalk is about distance not speed.”

The rock at the top of the hill isn’t the only link between the Ludemann’s Kiltwalk and Scotland. Elspeth’s father, Charles Sime, was born in Dundee and lived there until he immigrated to New Zealand in his 20s.

“Although Dad ended up living in New Zealand longer than he lived in Scotland, he retained his accent and took great pride in wearing his kilt,” Elspeth said.

“He would be very sad that his granddaughter has cancer but so proud of what she is doing to raise awareness and funds. He loved tramping and would be tickled pink that we are doing the Kiltwalk with its link to his home town.”

It took 6 hours and 30 000 steps to finish their walk. “I don’t think we’ll win any prizes for speed but we put in a lot of effort. I’m looking forward to an early night. I’m thrilled that we have been able to support the University of Edinburgh’s cancer research today, from the other side of the world,” said Jane.

The Dundee Kiltwalk has raised millions of pounds since it started in 2016. Covid-19 means people can’t walk together so this year’s event was the first virtual Kiltwalk. All funds raised will be matched by 50% donations from Sir Tom Hunter.

To make a donation to Jane’s efforts go to: https://dundeekiltwalk2020.everydayhero.com/uk/jane-3

Jane and Elspeth at the top of Signal Hill.
Jane and Elspeth at the top of Signal Hill.

Related Links:

Professor Charlie Gourley Group website: https://www.ed.ac.uk/cancer-centre/research/gourley-group

Cure Our Ovarian Cancer website: https://cureourovariancancer.org/nz/

Dundee Virtual Kiltwalk website: https://www.thekiltwalk.co.uk/events/dundee-virtual-kiltwalk

Information about ovarian cancer: https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/ovarian-cancer