A mum has been diagnosed with terminal cancer just six weeks after she was given the all-clear – with an ache in her bottom the only sign something was wrong.

Gemma Denham was diagnosed in March with cervical cancer.

A mother-of-two, from Cheshunt in Hertfordshire went through eleven rounds of chemotherapy and 28 sessions radiotherapy. She also had three sessions of brachytherapy (internal treatment). The patient was fitted with a nephrostomy bag to remove blocked urine and was admitted at University College London Hospital.

After a successful treatment, she got the results of her MRI scan on the 5th October and was then given the all clear.

However, in the days that followed, she experienced a sharp pain in her legs and buttocks.

On 7 November, Gemma was given the devastating news that the disease had spread across her pelvis and the bottom of her spine – and was now terminal. 

Gemma Denham went through 11 rounds of chemotherapy, 28 sessions of radiotherapy and three of brachytherapy (internal radiation therapy), as well as having a nephrostomy bag fitted to drain blocked urine. Pictured with her partner Elliott and her two children Faith and Ellison.

Gemma Denham had to go through eleven rounds of chemotherapy. 28 sessions of radiotherapy, three of brachytherapy (internal treatment), and three of brachytherapy were done. Gemma also needed a nephrostomy bag that could drain her blocked urine. With Elliott, her partner and Ellison, her children Faith and Ellison.

When Gemma, pictured with her daughter Faith, was given the news of her terminal diagnosis she feared she wouldn't be able to see her babies grow up

Gemma (pictured here with Faith) was horrified to learn that her cancer had been confirmed.

Gemma Denham during her treatment. After being told the disease had spread, Gemma had a panic attack

Gemma Denham during her treatment. Gemma experienced panic attacks after Gemma learned that the disease was spreading.

Gemma, a dentist receptionist, said that her body was in a state of flux when she told her the cancer had returned.

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

‘I wasn’t going to make it for my children after all. We had so many plans for our future and I was so scared I would miss their life – they are still babies.’

“I experienced a panic attack during surgery, and I couldn’t comprehend why it was so. 

Gemma notice the ache in her bum only six weeks after she was given the all-clear. Gemma with her nephrostomy bag.

Gemma noticed the pain in Gemma’s bum six weeks after receiving the all-clear. Gemma holding her nephrostomy bags.

Gemma is the mother of Faith, 7, and Ellison, one year old. Gemma went to routine smear testing in August 2020 amid continuing leg, pelvic, and back pain.

Her symptoms, which included nausea and vomiting, were not due to physical pains.

During the smear test, the nurse spotted a growth and she was referred to her GP, who 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.

Gemma, who is mum to Faith, seven, and one-year-old Ellison, went for a routine smear test in August 2020, amid ongoing leg, pelvic and back pain

Gemma (mum to Faith, 7-year-old, and Ellison (1-year) went for a routine test of the smear in August 2020. She was experiencing ongoing back, leg and pelvic pain.

When she was tested for HPV and the results came back positive, Gemma was told to wait three months for a repeat smear as there were not enough cells on the swab

Gemma had her HPV tested and positive results. Gemma was advised to keep waiting three months before she has another smear.

Doting mother: Gemma Denham during her chemotherapy wearing a family covered blanket to boost her spirits

Gemma Denham is a caring mother. She wore a family blanket over her cancer treatment to keep her spirit up.  

Gemma was tested positive for HPV. However, Gemma was told that she would need to wait three more months to have a second smear.

They found cells of high quality and performed a colposcopy in November.

After confirming the existence of abnormal cells, she was given general anaesthesia for surgery to take them out. But they could not because she was already bleeding.

Instead, they did an ultrasound – and the results confirmed a mass in her cervix.

When she was given the all-clear after an MRI found no trace of the cancer she and partner Elliot, 31, were initially thrilled

After an MRI showed no evidence of cancer, she received the all clear. Elliot and her partner were delighted at first

The PET scan was broken on the day of Gemma's MRI scan but the hospital assured her she would definitely get it done when the machine was fixed. Pictured: Gemma Denham after finishing her initial treatment before being told the cancer had spread

Gemma was informed that the PET scan she had received was not available on the same day as her MRI. The hospital however assured Gemma that it would be done after the machine is fixed. Gemma Denham finishing her initial treatment, before she was told about the spread of cancer.

She was tested for HPV and the results came back positive, but Gemma was then told to wait another three months for a repeat smear as there were not enough cells on the swab to detect abnormalities.

Gemma had her HPV test done and it came back as positive. Gemma was asked to return in three months for another smear because there weren’t enough abnormal cells.

Finally, in early March 2021 she was given the diagnosis of cervical cancer – something she had previously asked doctors if she had, but had been ‘assured she was too young’ for.

Gemma said: ‘A part of me felt relieved as crazy as that sounds – I knew I wasn’t going mad.’

“I knew everything about my body, and I knew that something was more serious.

‘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, pictured with her two children, said that her worst fear is not being around for her family, and she's not yet told  Faith and Elison about her terminal diagnosis

Gemma, pictured with her two children, said that her worst fear is not being around for her family, and she’s not yet told  Faith and Elison about her terminal diagnosis 

When the nurse confirmed the presence of abnormal cells she was put under general anaesthetic for a surgeon to remove them, but they couldn't as she was bleeding

After the nurse verified the existence of abnormal cells, she was placed under general anaesthesia for the surgeon to take them out. However, they were unable to do so as the patient was still bleeding.

Gemma ended up losing over five stone in weight and due to rapid weight loss she ended up with gallstones

Gemma lost more than five stone due to weight loss. She ended up getting gallstones.

Her treatment for cancer included radiotherapy, chemotherapy and transfusions of blood.

Gemma shared that treatment went well. My body was strong enough to withstand the chemotherapy.

“I was quite sick after I had started the second round of chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

“I lost over 5 stone and ended up having gallstones because of rapid weight loss.

Gemma's children inspire her to be ready to battle round two and she says she will do anything to beat this, defy the odds and not be another statistic.

Gemma is inspired by her children to fight round 2. She says that she would do anything for this to win, defy all odds and be a statistic.

While Gemma told Faith after she originally finished treatment, she hasn't yet broken the news to her about her terminal diagnosis

Gemma had told Faith about Gemma’s terminal diagnosis after her treatment was over, but she hadn’t revealed the details to Faith.

Currently, the cancer has not spread further and remains in Gemma's pelvis and lower spine while she awaits news for a clinical trial

Gemma is currently awaiting news on a clinical trial. The cancer hasn’t spread any further. It remains in Gemma’s lower spine and pelvis.

Finally, on 5 October she was given the all-clear after an MRI found no trace of the cancer – and she and partner Elliot, 31, were thrilled.

Gemma stated that she was completely overwhelmed by the experience. I couldn’t quite believe it but felt a sudden edge of bravery – I was finally going to be OK for my children.’

“The PET scan failed on my MRI scan, but the doctors assured me that it would be done once the machine is fixed.”

“From my MRI, they confirmed that I had no evidence of disease and scheduled me for the PET scan a few weeks later.

Initially Gemma responded well to her treatment but as soon as she started her second cycle of chemo alongside radiotherapy she got quite sick

Gemma was initially responsive to her treatment. However, when Gemma started her second chemotherapy cycle with radiotherapy and chemo she fell ill.

Gemma hopes to be around for a very long time for her children – and will stay as positive as she can be to fight

Gemma hopes to be around for a very long time for her children – and will stay as positive as she can be to fight

‘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 assured me she believed that the radiotherapy was still effective in my body. She would do a PET scan again in six weeks.”

However, during the wait she began experiencing pain in her leg and cheek, and then she felt again like she was walking limp when she moved.

Gemma realized something was not right and called the hospital. She was scheduled for an MRI to examine her cervix.

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.

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.

Gemma's biggest worry is not being there for her babies, and not being able to guide them through the most important journeys in life

Gemma is most worried about her kids and how she can help them navigate the important life journeys.

Tragically, 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.

The planned PET scan she had scheduled a few more days later showed the tumor hadn’t spread. She was nevertheless given a terminal diagnosis.

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.

“But, since they found out the terrible news, they believe there might be a clinical study for me that will involve immunotherapy. To determine if I am a suitable candidate, I will be subject to tests.

Currently, the cancer has not spread further and remains in Gemma's pelvis and lower spine. Pictured with her family

Gemma has a small amount of cancer remaining in her pelvis. Photographed with her family

After hearing the sad news, Gemma received video messages from two celebs – singer Craig David and reality star Gemma Collins. Craig David also came over to sing in person for the family

After hearing the sad news, Gemma received video messages from two celebs – singer Craig David and reality star Gemma Collins. Craig David was also present to sing for the family.

Gemma had told Faith about Gemma’s terminal diagnosis after her treatment was over, but she still hasn’t shared the information with Faith.

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 stated:[My biggest worry]It isn’t being the best mother I can be to my precious children and being able guide them on the most important moments of their lives.

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

Gemma's biggest fear is leaving her children to grow up without their mother, especially since they're so young

Gemma fears the most about leaving her kids to raise their children alone, particularly since they are so young.

Now she is being considered for a clinical trial, and a team at Hammersmith Hospital are considering further immunotherapy

She is now being evaluated for a clinical trial and Hammersmith Hospital’s team are looking into further immunotherapy.

After hearing the sad news, Gemma received video messages from two celebs – singer Craig David and reality star Gemma Collins.

Craig David came even to her home, with presents and autographed albums. He also lifted her spirits.

Gemma has the remaining cancer in her pelvis, lower spine and stomach.

A clinical trial is currently being conducted on her, while Hammersmith Hospital’s team are looking into further immunotherapy.

Gemma stated:[Going forward]My life will change, but cancer will not define me.

I must defy all odds to not be labeled “terminal”.

‘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.’

“I’m feeling determined and ready for round 2.”

“I will do whatever it takes to win this. I’ll defy all odds. And not become another statistic.”