Winslet opened up about how her mother’s fight with ovarian cancer inspired her to help a 28-year-old mother named Gemma Nuttall, who was battling cancer.
“There are miracles out there and this is one of them,” Winslet told British talk show This Morning on Feb. 5, when she called in to surprise Nuttall during her appearance.
“I lost my own mother last year in May to ovarian cancer and we as a family were given a very poor prognosis for my mom, after a four-year battle, a really unbelievable fight, we decided to look elsewhere and we also stumbled across those places in Germany,” Winslet said. “Simultaneously 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 and my heart sunk 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.’”
Nuttall, who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer when she was pregnant, refused potentially life-saving treatment because she would have been forced to terminate her pregnancy. After her daughter was born, she was told she had six months to live. She endured months of chemotherapy and radiation treatment, to defeat the cancer.
She discovered that she developed multiple brain tumors a year later.
The Oscar-winning actress went on to explain that she contacted Nuttall’s mother, Helen, to start raising funds so her daughter could start a six-session course of immunotherapy, which could cost over US$90,000 a visit.
“We got close to £200,000 [roughly C$348,400] and I thought, ‘Right it’s time to call my friend Leo,’” the actress said. “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.’”
DiCaprio and Winslet auctioned off three dinners with “Jack and Rose” in July and ended up raising US$1.35 million to be split between Nuttall and DiCaprio’s foundation.
“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,” Winslet said.
“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, Nuttall — who didn’t know 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.”