DREAM WRITE UP: Gemma Walker

“It Was My Dream”

Our charity was founded back in 2011 with the vision and aim to make things a little better for a patient and their family, during a time they need it the most. In many cases this can be something that offers a little assistance or makes things a little easier, but in many cases, we are lucky enough to answer a lifelong Dream or privileged enough to grant a final wish.

Please read the below story of diagnosis and treatment, but also of how big a difference a Dream can make. This is the story of Gemma Walker and is written in her own words:

“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. 

I underwent surgery to remove the primary tumour from my stomach and was followed up closely with 12 weekly check-ups, as I was at high risk of it returning. Unfortunately, this was the case and the year later I was told my cancer had spread to my lymph nodes in the groin and I again was sent for surgery to remove all my lymph nodes. 

In 2019 I started a yearlong course of immunotherapy, which would try and stop the cancer from returning. I went for treatment every 3 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. This led to more surgery, and it was decided that the immunotherapy treatment was not working, and I would be back to 12 weakly follow ups. 

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. 

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. 

My dream day came around so fast, not that was a looking forward to it or anything, and Evestrust had also arranged for me and my mum to stay the night before in a hotel just around the corner from Colchester Zoo, which worked out amazingly. 

When we arrived at the Zoo, they gave me a free electric chair so they could make sure I had the best experience I could have. They wanted to ensure I got to see the whole zoo as it was very much up and down hills. The weather on the day was typically English and not the best, but there was no way it was not stopping us. My zookeeper experience was booked for 15.00 so before we went there, we had our VIP lunch, something else organised by Evestrust, and we managed to see all the animals in the zoo. When we arrived at the elephants the woman from reception had come over and explained to the zookeepers why I was there, and about my Dream to be a zookeeper. They 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 2 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. The zookeepers explained to me how they place demands on the elephants to test their compliance and I got the chance to try this myself with them. 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. Thank you so much xx”

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