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I had a panic attack when my bum ache turned out to be terminal cancer

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I had a panic attack when my bum ache turned out to be terminal cancer

A mum who was suffering pain in her bum cheek was told she had terminal cancer – just six after she’d been given the “all-clear”.

Gemma Denham, 29, from Cheshunt, Hertfordshire, had already had treatment for cervical cancer after being diagnosed in March this year.

The mum-of-two went through 11 rounds of chemotherapy and 28 sessions of radiotherapy among more invasive treatments.

The treatment went well and on 5 October her MRI results came back clear of cancer, leaving Gemma and her partner Elliot, 31, “over the moon”.

But in the weeks that followed she started to experience a pain in her bum cheek and leg, which caused her to limp.

Knowing something wasn’t right, Gemma called the hospital and was booked in for an MRI of her cervix.

In a cruel twist of fate, the results found the cancer had spread across her pelvis and lower spine – with doctors unsure if something was missed in the earlier scan, or if it had grown back rapidly in the weeks that followed.

Thankfully the cancer has not spread to any organs. 

But Gemma was still told she had only a few years left, possibly months, on November 7.

Gemma said: “When they broke the news to me, they did say that there is nothing to offer me going forward – not even chemo as it wouldn’t work.

“My whole body felt like it was on fire when the consultant told me the cancer was back.

“I had a panic attack in the surgery and just couldn’t understand why this was the outcome.

“They told me I had months-to-early years left to live – devastated was an understatement.

“I wasn’t going to be there for my babies after all. We had so many plans for our future and I was so scared I would miss their life – they are still babies.”

Gemma hasn’t broken the news of her terminal diagnosis to her older child, Faith, seven.

She said: “I hope to be around for a very long time for my children – and I will stay as positive as I can be to fight this with all my being.”

SMEAR TEST DIAGNOSIS 

Gemma, a dental receptionist, went for a routine smear test in August 2020. 

She had been experiencing ongoing leg, pelvic and back pain – which can be symptoms of the cancer.

Gemma, who is mum to Faith, seven, and one-year-old Ellison, had been prescribed painkillers and her symptoms were believed to be due to postnatal depression.

During the smear test the nurse spotted a growth and Gemma was referred to her GP.

Gemma Denham had been prescribed painkillers and her symptoms were believed to be due to postnatal depression.
Jam Press

They allegedly said she had a “healthy cervix” but had cervical ectropion – which occurs when cells that line the inside of your cervix grow on the outside.

A smear test looks for the presence of HPV or abnormal cells – neither are a cervical cancer diagnosis, but markers that a woman needs to be followed up.

My main worries were I wouldn’t be here for my children – they are my absolute world and everything I do is for them.

Gemma’s results for HPV came back positive, which is not unusual but means a woman needs another smear test soon.

She was told to wait another three months for a repeat smear as there were not enough cells on the swab to detect abnormalities.

In November 2020, three months after Gemma’s original smear, doctors then found high-grade cells.

An ultrasound showed a mass in her cervix and, in early March 2021, she was given the diagnosis of cervical cancer.

Gemma claims she had previously asked doctors if she had the disease but had been “assured she was too young” for it.

Cervical cancer is most commonly diagnosed in those aged between 30 and 34, and Gemma was only just under this bracket.

Cancer Diagnosis
Gemma Denham started chemotherapy, radiotherapy, brachytherapy (internal radiation therapy), blood transfusions and platelet transfusions.
Jam Press

After her diagnosis, Gemma said: “A part of me felt relieved as crazy as that sounds – I knew I wasn’t going mad.

“I definitely knew my own body and knew something more severe was wrong.

“My main worries were I wouldn’t be here for my children – they are my absolute world and everything I do is for them.”

Gemma immediately started treatment to fight the cancer, including chemotherapy, radiotherapy, brachytherapy (internal radiation therapy), blood transfusions and platelet transfusions.

She also had a nephrostomy bag fitted to drain blocked urine while being treated at University College London Hospital.

The brave mum said: “I ended up losing over five stone in weight and due to rapid weight loss I ended up with gallstones.”

ROLLERCOASTER OF RESULTS 

Gemma was thrilled to find out her cancer had gone in October, saying: “I was completely over the moon.

“I couldn’t quite believe it but felt a sudden edge of bravery – I was finally going to be okay for my children.

“The results came back from the PET scan and they confirmed the cervical cancer had gone – however I had a slight glow on my right pelvic lymph node.

“My consultant had reassured me that she was pretty much certain that it was the radiotherapy still working in my body so will repeat the PET scan in six weeks.”

But during that wait, the pain in her bum cheek and leg signalled something was wrong – later confirmed with tests.

Cancer Diagnosis
Gemma Denham hasn’t broken the news of her terminal diagnosis to her older child, Faith.
Jam Press

Gemma said: “Since finding out the bad news, they think there may be a clinical trial available for me which will be immunotherapy. 

“I’ll be undergoing tests to find out if I’m a good candidate to participate.”

Now the mum is focusing on making memories with her children and hopes to take them to Disneyland, with a GoFundMe page having raised more than £17,000 to aid the special trip.

She said: “[My biggest worry] is not being the best mum I can be for my beautiful babies, and not being able to guide them through the most important journeys in life.

“My children growing up without the one person that loves them the most, more than anything in the world – their mum.”

“[Going forward] my life will be very different, but I will not let cancer define me.

“I need to defy the odds and not be labelled ‘terminal’.”

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Sports world reacts to John Madden’s death

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Sports world reacts to John Madden’s death

Legendary NFL coach and broadcaster John Madden died Tuesday morning at 85, the NFL announced. News of the football icon’s passing hit Twitter on Tuesday evening, and athletes, coaches and broadcasters from across the sports world reacted.

Fellow broadcasting legend Dick Vitale, who is currently battling cancer, called Madden “the greatest analyst of all time of any sport” in his Twitter tribute.

Former Yankees pitcher and notable Raiders fan CC Sabathia said “your legacy will live forever.” Madden coached the then-Oakland Raiders from 1969-78, a couple of years before Sabathia, a Vallejo, California native, was born. Lakers star LeBron James had similar words about Madden’s lasting legacy, adding an infinity emoji.

Former tennis star and social justice activist Billie Jean King recalled meeting Madden as a “privilege.”

Radio voice of the Rangers Kenny Albert, a five-sport broadcaster who’s been with FOX Sports since its inception in 1994, shared a photo circa 26 years ago to remember Madden.

ESPN’s Bomani Jones took a bit of a shot at current color commentators, noting that Madden “set an unreachable standard.”

Frank Caliendo, who’s made a career out of impersonations, including one for Madden, said he was surprised how emotional he felt.

Several football players, and others, including Saints running back Mark Ingram II and former Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant, credited Madden with being part of the reason why they love football.

Rams wide receiver and NFL MVP contender Cooper Kupp quote the late coach in his tribute: “The road to Easy Street goes through the sewer.”

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Miles McBride’s Knicks role will lessen with Kemba Walker’s resurgence

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Miles McBride’s Knicks role will lessen with Kemba Walker’s resurgence

MINNEAPOLIS — The Knicks got back another body in rookie point guard Miles McBride, who was cleared from protocols Tuesday and rejoined the team in Minnesota.

But there is no longer any hype for the rookie’s return. Kemba Walker is back as the starting point guard and coming off winning Eastern Conference Player of the Week honors with four standout games, including his Christmas Day spectacular. The Knicks have gone 2-2 since Walker regained the starting job.

“It’s great,’’ coach Tom Thibodeau said. “He had a great week. He’s playing great basketball. The team winning helps him get recognized and he was a big part of driving that winning. It’s great for the team.’’

McBride was also spectacular in his last outing before getting COVID-19, when he played the entire second half Dec. 16 in Houston and seemingly earned a spot in the rotation. In fact, McBride had strung together two decent outings before he was ruled out. But things have changed since his emergence and McBride is likely back to being a bit player.

Without a practice, McBride wasn’t even expected to see time when the Knicks faced the Timberwolves to kick off a four-game road trip.

Miles McBride
NBAE via Getty Images

Of course, with Walker’s arthritic knee, anything is possible. The Knicks play Detroit on Wednesday in a back-to-back, so it’s uncertain whether Walker will complete both contests. In addition, Immanuel Quickley is out of COVID-19 protocols but Thibodeau wasn’t sure he was ready for meaningful minutes.

That left Walker against the depleted Timberwolves, who were missing their three top players (Anthony Edwards, Karl-Anthony Towns, D’Angelo Russell), all because of COVID-19 .

Kemba Walker
Kemba Walker
USA TODAY Sports

When McBride got sidelined by the virus and Derrick Rose needed ankle surgery, Walker was resurrected by Thibodeau and it’s been a stunning comeback story.

Though Thibodeau has clear reservations about Walker based on his nine-game banishment due to his defensive malaise as an undersized point guard, he admitted after the Christmas Day triple-double against Atlanta that Walker is playing “much more aggressive.”

Walker’s triple-double that featured 10 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds was a lot different than his prior outing, when he scored 44 points against Washington.

“I thought his passing was terrific,’’ Thibodeau said before the Knicks resumed their schedule.

“Kemba had control of the game. The game tells you what to do. That’s what I loved about the way he played. I don’t think he forced anything. They puts size on him and were aggressive in their pick-and-roll coverage. He didn’t fight it. He attacked pressure the way you like to attack pressure. You don’t fight pressure with pressure. Don’t try to split it. Get rid of it, go to the backside. Let the game tell you what to do.’’

The Knicks coach is finally seeing all the elements of what Walker can do. Before his demotion, Walker was nothing more than a no-defense, 3-point shooter whose plus-minus was an abysmal minus-122.

Thibodeau was also concerned about his durability in sitting out two of the three back-to-back sets. The last load management game in Atlanta in late November triggered Thibodeau’s decision.

But now it’s only superlatives from Thibodeau in judging the last four games.

“Sometimes it’s going to be his shooting, sometimes it’s his penetration and getting in the paint to force a collapse and sometimes they’re being aggressive with their traps get rid of the ball quickly,’’ Thibodeau said. “The overall play, his rebounding. When your guards rebound, those are key to fast breaks. The more guard rebounding we get the better we can be. ‘’

The Knicks still have three players in protocols — centers Nerlens Noel and Jericho Sims and the newly infected Wayne Selden. Quickley and Kevin Knox were cleared on Christmas but were held out for conditioning.

No matter. The Knicks go as Kemba goes.

“He’s much more aggressive,’’ Thibodeau said. “That was the challenge. At the beginning of the year he and Evan were two new starters. Sometimes guys are trying to fit in. he’s being very aggressive which is the way we want him to play. Not deferring at all. When he and Julius [Randle] are aggressive like that our team is different.’’

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Bar raises dramatically for Zach Wilson in matchup with Tom Brady, Buccaneers

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Zach Wilson and Tom Brady

When Zach Wilson stares across the MetLife Stadium field at the opposite sideline this Sunday, it won’t be Trevor Lawrence he’ll be looking at as his game-day counterpart.

Lawrence, drafted by Jacksonville one spot before the Jets selected Wilson at No. 2 overall last April, is a contemporary.

This Sunday at MetLife, the Jets rookie quarterback won’t be staring at a contemporary on the other sideline. He’ll be staring at the GOAT.

Tom Brady.

The bar raises dramatically for Wilson and the Jets, who are coming off of their feel-good, get-well win over the woeful Jaguars and Lawrence this past Sunday.

Brady and Buccaneers, who are 11-4, NFC South division champions and seeking to repeat as Super Bowl champions, play the Jets, who are 4-11 and seeking more signs of development from their rookie quarterback.

To say this is a step up in competition for Wilson and the Jets going from Lawrence and the Jags to Brady and the Bucs is as obvious as pointing out that Tampa Bay receiver Antonio Brown has had a few off-the-field incidents during his otherwise stellar NFL career.

There hasn’t been a lot to keep the interest of the Jets fan this season — other than watching Wilson’s development. That took an unfortunate pause for the four games Wilson missed with a knee injury, but he’s been back for five games and has looked like a better quarterback, throwing only two interceptions in those games (none in the last three) since returning from his injury.

The problem, though, is that Wilson hasn’t been producing enough touchdowns, throwing for three of them and rushing for four others in the past five games.

Zach Wilson and Tom Brady
Zach Wilson and Tom Brady
N.Y. Post: Charles Wenzelberg; AP

Baby steps, though.

Wilson was the better quarterback this past Sunday when matched up with Lawrence, who threw for more yards than Wilson did, but Wilson ran for 91 yards, including his electric 52-yard scoring jaunt, and made key throws when he needed them.

Wilson will not win Sunday’s game against Brady and the Bucs throwing for the 102 yards he had against the Jaguars. He and the Jets will need more.

Consider this: Brady enters the game having thrown 37 TD passes and for 4,580 yards this season and averages a league-high 305.2 passing yards per game.

Then this: The Buccaneers average 29.5 points per game this season, second most in the NFL.

And this: Wilson doesn’t have a single 300-yard passing game, averages 183 passing yards per game and has thrown seven TD passes in 11 games.

Seven TD passes is a pedestrian two-game total for Brady.

Wilson and the Jets are playing with house money anyway in what always has been a developmental season, so Sunday against Brady should, at its very least, be a great measuring-stick learning experience for Wilson, who’s studied Brady on tape.

Wilson revealed this month that he watched film of Brady before the Jets played the Eagles on Dec. 5 in an effort to pick up tips on how Brady worked against the Eagles defense when he played them earlier in the season.

“I thought it was really cool to see kind of how he went through his whole process, how he navigated the pocket, different things like that,” Wilson said at the time.

On Sunday, Wilson gets to see that process up close as Brady tries to dissect a Jets defense that has yielded 29.9 points per game this season, the most in the NFL.

That puts an added onus on Wilson to produce on the other side of the ball, because he knows Brady is going to get his. Wilson will likely need to produce four TDs — any way he can — for the Jets to simply remain competitive with the Super Bowl champs.

That’s a lot to ask of a 22-year-old kid who’s produced just 11 TDs in his 11 starts, up against Brady, who’s thrown 618 TD passes and for 83,784 yards in his remarkable career.

It, too, is a lot to ask playing against an aggressive Tampa Bay defense that’s ranked No. 9 in the NFL in points allowed (20.8 per game) and is led by former Jets head coach Todd Bowles, who’d surely like to send a holiday message to his former employer.

If you don’t think Bowles will be blitzing the bejesus out of Wilson, then you probably think Antonio Brown is a living saint.

The good news for the Jets is that Wilson has shown incremental improvements, particularly when it comes to his decision-making and quicker releases on his throws.

“He’s coming along, he’s getting more comfortable, he’s calmer back there,’’ Jets coach Robert Saleh said Monday. “He’s in a great headspace and it’s going to be fun to watch him grow, continue to grow.’’

A big part of that growth will take place this Sunday as he watches the GOAT operate from the opposite sideline at MetLife.

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