Newlywed bride, 28, dies after being told 'tennis ball' lump on leg is just fat

By Jonathan Coles

A newlywed woman whose cancer was twice dismissed as a fat lump by a bungling doctor has sadly died.

Gemma Malins, 28, was first misdiagnosed two-and-a-half years ago.

She went to see her GP about a lump on her thigh but was told not to worry.

The same judgement was then made three months later - even though the lump was now "the size of a tennis ball".

"Another had grown on my breast," Gemma added at the time.

It was only when she visited a different doctor later in 2019 that she was referred to a specialist.

And, after a three-month wait due to insurance issues, she was then formally diagnosed - with a metastatic melanoma.

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Gemma was first misdiagnosed two-and-a-half-years ago (givealittle)

"It had spread throughout my whole body," Gemma told the NZ Herald.

More than NZ$56,000 (£28,830) was raised to support Gemma in April, when she decided to try Ipilimumab, an antibody treatment that helps bolster the immune system.

But, after multiple attempts, the treatment was not successful - and Gemma passed away last week.

New Zealand is currently in lockdown, which means a funeral has not been held yet.

Gemma was "loved by a lot of people", a pastor said (givealittle)

Gemma said previously that a funded immunotherapy called Keytruda initially stabilised the melanoma.

But, after a year, the cancer spread again - which is when she decided to marry her partner in an impromptu ceremony.

The couple were married at Duders Beach, east of Beachlands, a suburb of Auckland.

And she said: "Brandon gave up his whole life for me, his job as a beekeeper. He's my hero.

"He's amazing, he's been with me for every blood test, every needle, every pain, every good and bad day."

Fundraising pages were setup to help with Gemma's treatment and to give her the chance to tick off her bucket list.

But, while some of the activities were achieved, it was difficult to tick them all off due to the coronavirus pandemic and lockdowns.

Pastor Neil Hamilton of Beachlands Baptist Church said of Gemma’s death that she had gone through a "long and hard-fought battle".

He told Stuff that her passing had been devastating because of New Zealand’s tough level 4 restrictions.

"There’s a cruelty to it. There’s no closure for the family," he added. "She was loved by a lot of people."

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