HEALTHY LIVING: Be a star for Sheffield cancer charity appeal to help families like Ben’s

Ben Degg, who has been treated for a rare germ cell cancer, with his wife Jen and their two children George and Edie
Ben Degg, who has been treated for a rare germ cell cancer, with his wife Jen and their two children George and Edie
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At first glance Ben Degg, his wife Jen and their two young children appear to be a joyful family, eagerly looking forward to the festive season in just a few weeks’ time.

But in reality the Deggs, from Nether Edge in Sheffield, are dealing with heartbreak after Ben was diagnosed with cancer, for which all standard treatments have now been exhausted.

As this could be the dad’s last Christmas, he and Jen are determined to make December 25 extra special for their son George, three, and daughter Edie, two.

They are also backing the Christmas Star Appeal, run in aid of Weston Park Hospital Cancer Charity and backed by The Star.

People who donate to the appeal will receive a silver star decoration to hang on their Christmas tree.

Last year the campaign raised over £20,000, and the charity is hoping to beat that total in 2014.

Ben, 31, was diagnosed in March 2013 after initially visiting A&E with severe back pain. He was referred to a doctor who told him he had a rare germ cell cancer.

Germ cells develop into sperm and eggs, and commonly cause tumours in the testicles and ovaries, but growths can occur elsewhere in the body in rare cases.

Ben underwent chemotherapy at Weston Park, followed by surgery and radiotherapy.

Ben and Jen, 30, decided to bring forward their wedding day to ensure he could enjoy the occasion before beginning treatment.

“I never imagined that a trip to A&E for back pain would end up changing my life forever,” said Ben.

“I suppose at the time I was utterly shocked at the size of my tumour and my main focus was getting better so I could return to some normality and spend time with Jen and the kids.”

But in February Ben attended a routine check-up and was given the devastating diagnosis of secondary lung cancer.

He had further chemotherapy but can be offered no further conventional treatment - leaving his future uncertain.

But Ben said: “Christmas is about hope as much as anything.

“My own treatment options may now be limited but I refuse to give up on myself and I refuse to give up on the thousands of other people in this area who will one day find themselves battling this same disease.

“This Christmas we will donate to the Christmas Star Appeal because we’re not giving up on our fight for a brighter future.”

Jen added: “Sadly we don’t know what 2015 will bring us. We have to take each day as it comes and make the precious time that we spend together this Christmas really count.”

Helen Gentle, the charity’s fundraising manager, said: “Last year, we had such an incredible response to our Christmas appeal.

“We’re hoping to raise even more this year to prevent local families in the future going through the difficult ordeal the Degg family now face.”

Visit www.christmasstarappeal.org.uk to donate.