Tributes after 'amazingly beautiful, funny' Doncaster woman dies after epic cancer battle

Tributes have been paid to a Doncaster woman who bravely fought an epic four year battle with cancer.

By Darren Burke
Wednesday, 30th March 2022, 11:25 am

Gemma Walker passed away last week following a long fight against the disease which sadly spread throughout her body after being first diagnosed in 2018.

Doncaster charity Evestrust, which helps make dreams come true for seriously and terminally ill people, led the tributes to Gemma.

A spokesman said: “It is with the greatest sadness and with a huge ache in our hearts as we pay tribute to an amazingly beautiful, funny, kind and warrior of the largest magnitude Gemma Walker.

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Gemma Walker has died after a lengthy battle against cancer.

"Gemma sadly passed away last week after her long battle with cancer, leaving a trail of tears, broken hearts and those that knew her lost in a world of pain. We were so lucky to have you as one of the family and also as a special friend whose memory will never fade. We love you, see you soon.”

Gemma bravely revealed her fight on the charity’s Facebook page before her death.

She wrote: “I still remember the day back in 2018 when I was diagnosed with stage 3C skin cancer, I thought it was all a nightmare.

"Immediately I entered this new world of living with cancer and understanding what was happening to my body. It’s something I never thought would happen to me, especially not at the age of 27.”

She underwent surgery to remove the primary tumour from her stomach but a year later was told the cancer had spread to her lymph nodes in the groin and she underwent further surgery.

She added: “In 2019 I started a year long course of immunotherapy, which would try and stop the cancer from returning.

"I went for treatment every three weeks and in total it was 17 rounds. I managed to get to treatment number 14 and unfortunately the doctor had told me the cancer had returned once more, in more lymph nodes.

“In 2020 the cancer had yet again spread and advanced to my liver and escalated to the point I was given the heart-breaking news that I was now diagnosed as terminal.

"While I was having a scan on my liver, the cancer was also discovered on my right ovary, so this was removed with the aim to give me more time. My new mind set changed at this point, and I decided I would try to make every day a better day than yesterday and make memories with the people I love the most.”

She was also treated for breast cancer and 58 separate brain tumours during her battle.

It led to Gemma spending a day at Colchester Zoo, living out her dream of being a zookeeper and working with elephants after Evestrust stepped in to set up the experinece.

She said: “My mum contacted Evestrust about the dream I’d always had to be a zookeeper, especially with elephants. I have always been obsessed with them, that was no secret, but what I couldn’t believe was, the charity never questioned my request ha-ha. It was my dream, and they just went off and made it happen, almost straight away.

“When we arrived at the elephants, the zoo staff were amazing, they gave us extra time and made sure it was a special experience for me and my mum.

"As part of that experience, I was given the chance to meet two of the cheekiest elephants in the zoo.

"I got the opportunity to feed them and be a part of their night-time routine, which included helping them get showered and have their medications for bed. It was so surreal, I just couldn’t believe I was doing this.

“The whole experience was just magical, and I felt so lucky to have been given this experience by Evestrust. It was a lifelong dream they answered, and it will be something I will talk about and remember forever.”

The funeral will take place on April 13 from 10.30am at Doncaster Minster followed by burial at St Katherine’s Church, Loversall. The wake will be held at the Earl of Doncaster.

Dress code is traditional for family, friends are encouraged to be as ‘bright and colourful as you can just like Gemma.’