A UK mother battling “incurable” breast cancer has turned to alternative therapies for relief. And it has shown some success. Since introducing vitamins, cannabis CBD oil, mistletoe injections, and a strict vegan diet into her regimen, she has seen her tumor recede.
Holly Sherris, from Ingleby Barwick in North Yorkshire, hopes for as much time as possible with her 3-year-old daughter. And she hopes that by sharing her story, others will be encouraged to self-check, seek medical advice, and benefit from early diagnoses.
Dance academy owner Holly, 28, was first diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer in 2017. She was five months pregnant at the time.
“If she hadn’t been pregnant, we might not have found out and it could have been a lot worse,” said husband James, 35, reports the Daily Mail.
Weeks before Holly’s initial diagnosis, the couple noticed something was wrong while on holiday in Ibiza. “She basically felt something that felt a bit unusual, and as a young women [sic], she went and got checked,” said James, who works for a Mini car dealership.
The couple were shocked and scared upon learning of Holly’s breast cancer diagnosis. “She had some chemotherapy while she was pregnant,” James said, “which is quite scary as well, because they assured us that the baby would be fine but you never know.”
Holly had a mastectomy and endured eight months of radiotherapy and chemotherapy at the University Hospital of North Tees. She carried her pregnancy to 35 weeks and gave birth to a healthy daughter, Harper, via caesarean section in the middle of her treatment.
“Holly remained extremely brave, managing to work and run her dance school throughout her treatment whilst being a new mummy,” James told Teesside Live.
With Holly eventually in remission, the couple tied the knot in November 2019. Yet they were dealt a devastating blow just seven months later.
Once again, Holly felt something wasn’t quite right, this time on her sternum. The cancer was back: “incurable, inoperable, but treatable” this time. She was given an estimated two years to live.
On the same day as her second diagnosis, James was asked back to work after being furloughed in March. “[I]t was kind of like a double-ended sword,” he recalled. “I wanted to go back to work to earn money, but I also wanted to be at home with Holly.”
The couple commended the NHS for administering a swift treatment plan despite demands of the pandemic. But by September, chemotherapy wasn’t working, so Holly started exploring alternative approaches: she quit alcohol; started taking vitamin C tablets and CBD oil; and introduced a strict vegan juice diet.
She also underwent needle training for mistletoe therapy, a practice that involves self-injecting mistletoe every three days. Chemotherapy tablets, which Holly continues to take, meant fewer hospital visits for the new mom amidst social distancing restrictions.
During a January scan, the couple were stunned. “[The tumor] was looking like it had shrunk, based on what she’d been doing,” said James. “It’s obviously still there, but it’s good and really positive in terms of the past results.”
Holly’s alternative therapies, which are not offered by the NHS, are costing the couple over 1,700 pounds (approx. US$2,350) a month. Holly, who has raised over 12,000 pounds (approx. US$16,600) for the Breast Unit at the University Hospital of North Tees by hosting a danceathon, also started a crowdfunding page with James to seek support for her ongoing treatment.
They raised enough for a year’s supply of alternative therapies in less than 48 hours. To date, the fund has surpassed their target by 30 percent.
“It’s unbelievable,” said James. “We’ve been taken aback, overwhelmed, and humbled by the support, really. We were due some luck really, so it’s all good.”
Both James and Holly are hoping that her early diagnosis and alternative treatments will buy her as much time as possible with their new family.