Cape Town - Talk about a big heart!
Oscar-winning actress Kate Winslet (42) has helped save the life of a young mother with cancer.
Gemma Nuttall (29) from the UK was diagnosed with ovarian cancer three years ago when she was pregnant, but refused potentially life-saving treatment as she’d have had to terminate her pregnancy. After giving birth to a healthy daughter, Penelope, she was told she had six months to live.
But she defied doctors’ diagnoses and – thanks to fundraising efforts driven by Kate, whose own mother had died from the same form of the disease – is now cancer-free.
Appearing on a British talk show This Morning, Gemma paid tribute to the British thespian and mom of three, saying: “I just want to say thank you so much for all your hard work. You saved my life.”
Phoning in to the show, Kate responded, saying: “So much good has come out of this situation. Look at Gemma. She is beautiful and cancer free.”
The Steve Jobs star explained she came across Gemma’s plight while researching treatment for her own mother, who suffered a four-year battle with ovarian cancer before succumbing to it in May last year.
“We as a family were given a very poor prognosis for my mom so we decided to look elsewhere. I came across a petition on change.org.uk, which was Gemma, or someone on behalf of Gemma, campaigning to have immunotherapy made available on the NHS [UK’s national health system] and my heart sank, as at that point I thought, ‘This poor young woman is probably years away from her being able to access that kind of treatment on the national health service.’”
She contacted Nuttall’s mother, Helen, to start raising funds so her daughter could start a six-session course of immunotherapy.
“I started putting word out there among people I know who are very charitable and equally touched by Gemma's story,” Kate says.
“We got close to $280 000 [R3.36m] and I thought, ‘Right, it’s time to call my friend Leo. I phoned Leo and I said, ‘Do you think we could do a charity dinner or something?’ And he said, ‘Let’s go one better. Come with me to St Tropez, to my big fundraiser for the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation. And we will auction off a dinner with Jack and Rose.’”
The pair auctioned off three dinners with ‘Jack and Rose’ and ended up raising $1.35m (R16.2m) which was split between Nuttall and DiCaprio’s foundation, which focuses on conservation.
“As we raised enough money for Gemma I set up another foundation to help other people in the same situation. So much good has come out of this situation,” Kate concludes.
“I could not be more thrilled and honoured to have been able to help you and your mom. It shows things can be done even after a devastating prognosis. There are miracles out there.”