Jason Kelce Honors Trainer With Cancer, ESPN Reporter Died of Cancer and More

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From Jason Kelce honoring the team trainer who has been diagnosed with cancer to deaths in the sports reporting and music world, here’s what’s happening in the oncology space this week.

Sarah Ferguson’s cancer did not spread.

Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York who is commonly known as “Fergie,” recently told loved ones that her skin cancer, which was diagnosed in January 2024 after a suspicious lesion was spotted during a breast cancer surgery, did not spread, according to PEOPLE.

According to PEOPLE’s source, Ferguson had the skin cancer and surrounding lymph nodes surgically removed.

"Fortunately, they have turned out to be clear. This is the best news she could have on it at this stage,” the source said to PEOPLE, noting that Ferguson will have to undergo checkups every 12 weeks and that “she is very relieved.”

The NFL’s Jason Kelce paid a special tribute to his trainer with cancer during his retirement speech.

Image of a football up close, touching the turf below it.

Jason Kelce of the NFL thoughtfully paid tribute to his Philadelphia Eagles trainer, Joe O'Pella, during his retirement press conference.

Philadelphia Eagles’ trainer Joe O’Pella taped Jason Kelce’s ankles before every game except one — the last game of Kelce’s career. O’Pella missed the game because he was undergoing chemotherapy treatment after being diagnosed with cancer. However, upon Kelce’s retirement, he asked O’Pella to wrap his ankles for the press conference where he shared the news.

“I taped this guy’s ankles and thumbs every day for 13 seasons, and when he played his last game in Tampa, again I couldn’t be there due to cancer. And when he told me he would be retiring and I expressed my regret of not being the last person to ever tape him, and he offered to have me tape him for his retirement press conference. That’s who he is. And I hope these stories can add to an already unbelievable legacy,” O’Pella wrote in an Instagram post.

The Blackberry Smoke drummer died of cancer.

Brit Turner, a founding member and drummer of the rock band Blackberry Smoke died on Mar. 3 at the age of 57.

“It is with the deepest sorrow that we inform everyone that our brother [Brit Turner] has moved on from this life,” Blackberry Smoke wrote on Instagram. “If you had the privilege of knowing Brit on any level, you know he was the most caring, empathetic, driven and endearing person one could ever hope to meet. Brit was Blackberry Smoke’s True North, the compass that instituted the ideology that will continue to guide this band.”

In November 2022, Turner was taken to the emergency room and received an MRI that showed a fast-growing form of brain cancer called glioblastoma. During the same month, he received surgery and went back to performing with the band weeks following the operation, even performing on Blackberry Smoke’s tour through December 2023.

“Thank you to everyone who has supported and been there for Brit and his family through this fight,” the band wrote.

An award-winning ESPN NFL reporter died of cancer.

Chris Mortensen, an award-winning NFL reporter on ESPN for more than 30 years, died of cancer at 72 years old after receiving a diagnosis of stage 4 throat cancer in January of 2016.

"Mort was widely respected as an industry pioneer and universally beloved as a supportive, hard-working teammate," Jimmy Pitaro, chairman of ESPN, said in a statement. "He covered the NFL with extraordinary skill and passion and was at the top of his field for decades. He will truly be missed by colleagues and fans, and our hearts and thoughts are with his loved ones."

In 2023, Mortensen left his career at ESPN to “focus on my health, family and faith,” he had said.

"I admired how hard Chris worked to become one of the most influential and revered reporters in sports," NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement. "He earned our respect and that of many others with his relentless pursuit of news but also with the kindness he extended to everyone he met. He will be greatly missed by many of us in the league who were fortunate to know him well beyond the stories he broke each Sunday.

"We send our condolences to his family, his colleagues and the many people Chris touched throughout his well-lived life."

Peyton Manning, a retired American football quarterback, posted two photos of him and Mortensen on Instagram, expressing his condolences to Mortensen’s family.

“Heartbroken. We lost a true legend. Mort was the best in the business and I cherished our friendship. I trusted him with my announcement to sign with the Broncos and with the news of my retirement. I will miss him dearly and my thoughts and prayers are with Micki and his family. Rest in peace, Mort,” Manning wrote.

Mortensen was a regular contributor to ESPN’s NFL shows and “SportsCenter” since 1991. Approximately 25 years later in 2016, he received the Pro Football Writers of America’s Dick McCann Award and was honored for it during the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s enshrinement ceremony in August of the same year.

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