Cannabis oil shrink­ing my tu­mours – says woman given just weeks to live

Cynon Valley - - NEWS - MARK SMITH mark.smith@waleson­line.co.uk

A CAN­CER pa­tient who was given just weeks to live claims the tu­mours in her brain are now shrink­ing – af­ter tak­ing both le­gal and il­le­gal forms of cannabis.

Gemma Elsworth, from Hir­waun, near Aber­dare, went blind, lost move­ment in her left side, and even strug­gled to swal­low when the tu­mours grew larger.

But now she claims that as a re­sult of tak­ing cannabis-de­rived CBD oil and crushed-up forms of the plant, in con­junc­tion with chemo­ther­apy, that the tu­mours have shrunk in size by half. Stud­ies sug­gest cannabis com­pounds may kill cer­tain ma­lig­nant cells in the lab, but ex­perts warn there is no de­fin­i­tive proof yet of its ef­fects on can­cer in hu­mans.

“The CBD oil turned things around for me,” said Gemma.

“In De­cem­ber 2017 they said noth­ing would cure me, as the tu­mours were so ad­vanced and chemo­ther­apy would only give me a few weeks or months.

“I came home in Jan­uary and have re­gained some use of my left side and can do much more than I could eight weeks ago.

“I’ve started walk­ing with a stick and my eye­sight is com­ing back af­ter three years.

“If it wasn’t for the CBD oil I don’t think I’d be here now.”

Gemma was just 10 months old when her par­ents no­ticed bruis­ing to her eye, which turned out to be can­cer­ous.

She was di­ag­nosed with rhab­domyosar­coma, a very rare form of the dis­ease, which at­tacks the soft tis­sue of the body, and she later needed her right eye re­moved.

She also needed fa­cial re­con­struc­tion when the dis­ease spread to her nose and jaw.

Look­ing back to when she first no­ticed prob­lems with Gemma’s eye, her mum Kay Elsworth said: “She was still happy and eat­ing but it got to the point where you could see the tu­mour grow­ing on her face.

“Then one day her cot was full of wa­tery blood. We just knew some­thing ur­gent needed to be done.”

When doc­tors told the fam­ily lit­tle Gemma had the ag­gres­sive brain can­cer and gave her just six months to live Kay said she went into a state of de­nial.

“I didn’t be­lieve it. I’d never heard of chil­dren hav­ing can­cer in those days. We just thought it was an older per­son’s dis­ease.”

Gemma then started hav­ing reg­u­lar chemo­ther­apy at Uni­ver­sity Hos­pi­tal Llan­dough and six weeks of ra­dio­ther­apy.

She also had reg­u­lar lum­bar punc­tures into her spine when the can­cer threat­ened to spread to her brain.

“She couldn’t tol­er­ate the chemo­ther­apy as she was still so young,” for­mer ac­coun­tant Kay added.

“She just be­came more and more anaemic and at one point went into a res­pi­ra­tory ar­rest where she just stopped breath­ing.”

Fol­low­ing the chemo­ther­apy and ra­dio­ther­apy her right eye and the sur­round­ing tis­sue had to be cut away in or­der to save her life.

How­ever, the can­cer had spread to her nose and jaw, which meant that through­out her child­hood and teenage years she had to go through more surgery, in­clud­ing fa­cial re­con­struc­tion.

Through­out her time in school Gemma was al­legedly tor­mented by bul­lies for the way she looked – and would even get stones thrown at her house.

“Peo­ple used to call her ‘Gemma One Eye’ and all sorts of names. She was a very trust­ing per­son and so­cially naive so peo­ple have taken ad­van­tage of her in the past,” said Kay.

De­spite her prob­lems, Gemma left home at 18 years old, passed her driv­ing test, and man­aged to live in­de­pen­dently.

But her health be­gan to de­te­ri­o­rate rapidly around three years ago, when she de­vel­oped epilepsy, suf­fered sev­eral falls and lost her sight in her left eye.

“She ex­pe­ri­enced a lot of hal­lu­ci­na­tions. She was imag­in­ing peo­ple and an­i­mals around her feet,” added Kay.

“It must have been hor­ri­ble for her but we later re­alised the hal­lu­ci­na­tions and epilepsy were pos­si­ble signs of a brain tu­mour.

“In Novem­ber last year she was taken to A&E at Prince Charles Hos­pi­tal in Merthyr af­ter fall­ing and while she was there she lost the use of her left side. We thought she’d suf­fered a stroke.”

Fol­low­ing scans which were sent to spe­cial­ists at the Uni­ver­sity Hos­pi­tal of Wales in Cardiff three large tu­mours were spot­ted in her brain, along with a clus­ter of smaller tu­mours on her brain stem.

“We were told the tu­mours were in­op­er­a­ble and they gave her weeks, pos­si­bly a cou­ple of months, to live,” Kay added.

“I then just be­gan scram­bling around on the in­ter­net to find some way of help­ing her. At this point she couldn’t even swal­low.

“Be­fore she was even di­ag­nosed with can­cer again I’d seen a few clips on YouTube about the ben­e­fits of CBD oil.

“I man­aged to get some from MediPen in Cardiff. I put three or four drops un­der her tongue with meals and within days she was in bed feed­ing her­self and had built up the strength to swal­low again.”

Be­cause both Gemma and Kay were un­able to af­ford to buy the CBD oil reg­u­larly they soon turned to il­le­gal street sell­ers.

Kay said: “I would grind up the dry leaves and put a spoon­ful with her meals. She just im­proved and im­proved and im­proved.”

Now, in a com­bi­na­tion with chemo­ther­apy, the fam­ily claim the three tu­mours in Gemma’s brain have shrunk by half – and the clus­ter in her brain stem has van­ished.

“They’ve now said she has a year or two to live in­stead of a few weeks,” Kay added.

“Ob­vi­ously the doc­tors can­not con­done giv­ing her cannabis but they’ve said to con­tinue what we’re do­ing as it seems to be work­ing.”

More than 50 guests packed into Aber­dare RFC’s club­house ear­lier this month to mark Gemma’s 35th birth­day.

Kay added: “Gemma sang Get the Party Started by Pink and ev­ery­one had a fab­u­lous night.”

Both Kay and Gemma have now called for cannabis to be le­galised so it can be prop­erly reg­u­lated and peo­ple like her don’t feel like crim­i­nals try­ing to get hold of it.

Gemma added: “They need to de­crim­i­nalise all cannabis so that more re­search can be done on cures for many dis­eases.

“There are hun­dreds of peo­ple who have been saved by this plant, which is a medic­i­nal herb, not a dan­ger­ous drug like other phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal medicines. I be­lieve it saved my life and should be avail­able to save oth­ers.”

A spokesman for MediPen, which the fam­ily say sup­plied the le­gal form of CBD oil, said: “As the UK’s lead­ing con­sumer cannabi­noid biotech­nol­ogy com­pany we’ve been on a mis­sion over the last three years to break down the neg­a­tive con­no­ta­tions sur­round­ing cannabis and raise aware­ness sur­round­ing the pos­i­tive at­tributes of the plant.

“We feel this has been achieved with con­sid­er­able suc­cess as we’ve cre­ated an in­dus­try in which le­gal non-psy­choac­tive cannabi­noid based prod­ucts have flour­ished and will con­tinue to grow ex­po­nen­tially.”

Gemma Elsworth, from Hir­waun, says she has ex­pe­ri­enced shrink­age of her mul­ti­ple brain tu­mours by us­ing CBD oil

MARK LEWIS

Gemma with mum Kay and dog Molly

AL­LAN GUNTON

Gemma as a child with her mum Kay Elsworth

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