Kate Winslet is opening up about how her mother’s fight with ovarian cancer inspired her to “save the life” of a complete stranger – with a little help from Titanic costar Leonardo DiCaprio.
“There are miracles out there and this is one of them,” Winslet told British daytime TV show This Morning recently about her decision to help cancer patient Gemma Nuttall, 28.
“It actually worked. It actually really did work,” Winslet added in a surprise phone call to the studio, which left guest Nuttall shocked. “We raised the money and the treatment has worked, and I think that’s a real headline here: That things really can be done when there is a poor prognosis, just a devastating prognosis.”
As explained on the show, Nuttall — a dental nurse from Lancashire, England — was diagnosed with aggressive ovarian cancer during the initial stages of pregnancy and refused potentially life-saving medicine as it would have terminated the life of her unborn baby.
She was given 6 to 12 months to live but following the birth of daughter Penelope, now aged 3, she endured months of chemotherapy and radiation treatment, to bravely defeat the cancer. In a cruel twist, she was discovered to have developed multiple brain tumors a year later.
In desperation, Nuttall turned to a “wonder clinic” in Germany, starting a six-session course of immunotherapy in May 2017. With the treatment costing up to $98,000 a time, however, Nuttall could not afford to continue the life-saving treatment and created a Gofundme page.
It was here that fate stepped in through the guise of a total stranger: Oscar winner Winslet, who had been researching the same clinics in response to “a very poor prognosis” for her mother, Sally, who died in May 2017.
“I just thought ‘I can’t have this happen,’” said a clearly emotional Winslet about the moment she discovered Nuttall’s story. “My own mother was very, very unwell, and I just thought my mum would be incredibly proud if I could do this for somebody else, for another young mum.”
Winslet then contacted Nuttall’s mother, Helen Sproates, 56, and together they entered into a frenzied texting “crusade” to gather funds from friends and compassionate people who were equally touched by the story.
“It was just amazing,” added Winslett. “We got close to £200,000 ($280,000) and at that point 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,’ which is back in July, ‘and we will auction off a dinner with Jack and Rose.’”
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The Titanic costars wound up auctioning three dinners with ‘Jack and Rose,’ raising $1.35 million, which was split equally between the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation and Nuttall’s cause. In fact, the auction raised so much that Winslett and Nuttall now have extra money to fund treatment for other cancer sufferers.
“I am now able to set up another foundation — which Gemma is going to help me run and be involved with — another foundation which will specifically help individuals who are in exactly the position that Gemma has been in,” said Winslet.
“So, so much good has come out of this remarkable moment. I mean look at Gemma. Look at her. She is so beautiful. She is alive. She is cancer-free. It is utterly incredible. I feel so blessed that I could help.”
In response, an equally emotional Nuttall — who had no idea Winslet was going to call into the show — replied: “I just want to say thank you so much for all your hard work and for me being able to have my treatment that I really did need. You saved my life and I just want you to know that.”