In 2013, a 29 year old mother, Gemma Nuttall, decided not to take cancer treatments when diagnosed because they would make her lose her baby.
She is now cancer free after years of ups and downs, thanks to Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio.
Gemma was told she had ovarian cancer during her initial scan after finding out she was expecting. It was an aggressive form, too. Gemma is from Rossendale, Lancashire, and she put her own life on the line so she could carry her baby as long as possible.
She did deliver a healthy daughter, Penelope, at just 26 weeks gestation, via an emergency cesarean section after doctors discovered that the cancer had spread to her cervix. After the birth of her baby, doctors informed her that nothing could be done at this point and gave her less than 6 months to survive, and set her up with end of life care.
Gemma, along with her mother, started a crowdfunding account to try and get her into a so called wonder clinic in Germany.
This is where Ms. Winslet comes in. She heard Gemma’s story and wanted to help. She and close friend and colleague, Leonardo DiCaprio decided to help her by auctioning date nights with the two of them. They called them Jack and Rose date nights.
The date nights, named after their ‘Titanic’ roles turned out to be pretty popular and they sold off three of them, donating all of the proceeds to Gemma’s care.
The auction took place during a private dinner in St. Tropez that was being held for a conservation foundation headed up by Leonardo DiCaprio.
Nearly half a year ago, Ms. Nuttall completed her lifesaving treatment and is now cancer free.
Gemma said she cannot thank Kate and the public who donated enough for helping to save her life. She knows her story would have had a different ending of not for the generosity shown.
She recalls being so nervous when Kate Winslet first called to check on her and offer help.
She relayed her undying gratitude to Kate and Ms. Winslet said she had three kids and couldn’t imagine not helping after putting herself in Gemma’s shoes.
She was grateful to have been able to raise the huge sum needed to help a mom beat cancer.
Kate received an Actor’s Inspiration Award for this and other kind pacts of service to others.
In her acceptance speech for the award, she said it had been a great privilege to learn how to use her voice of influence to help others. To stand up for those who can’t speak up for themselves, who don’t have the means to. Helping those who would otherwise die because they can’t afford a specialist.
In 2013, when Gemma discovered she was expecting, the doctors told her she had large cysts in her ovaries and that’s what led to the cancer diagnosis. She told her partner that there was no way she was terminating the pregnancy. She felt the baby saved her by revealing the cancer, so she was owed the chance at life.
Because of the nature of the delivery and the subsequent surgery to operate on the tumor, Gemma didn’t even get to hold her baby right away, but had to wait for a full day to go see her.
Penelope was in an incubator so Gemma held her hand and was grateful for the most important thing, that they were both alive.
Penelope was a healthy 4 lbs 5 oz at birth on March 24, 2014.
A year later, after being cancer free, Gemma had a lump on her head. The cancer was back, and it was stage IV already. She needed brain surgery that could impair her permanently.
The surgery combined with radiation was the treatment protocol this time. She went back to work, but in a few months, she began experiencing headaches. She had eight tumors this time, all over her head.
Recently single, she faced this round of treatment alone. Then she was told nothing else would help.
That’s when her mother set up the funding page and Gemma’s story started to spread. She was able to go receive one round of immunotherapy in Germany, but didn’t have the funds to go again, until Kate Winslet read her story online and wanted to help.
Gemma sold her home, and that combined with public donations and the generosity of Kate and Leo’s auction, she was able to complete the treatment that helped eradicate the cancer from her body.
Gemma goes for another PET scan soon, and will probably have more treatment to strengthen her body’s defenses a bit more depending on the result.
She says she and Kate text here and there and have even planned to meet up in the future.
She said she would love for Kate to meet Penelope.