A teenager who was paralysed and brain damaged by treatment for a brain tumour may have a new ray of hope as his mother claims cannabis oil has shrunk the growth.
Kai Yearwood, now 16, has had a rare brain tumour since he was three years old and has been told ‘numerous times’ that it is terminal.
He has had surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy but his mother, Victoria, 43, from Kenley in London, says that treatment rendered her son ‘useless’.
Kai is now partially paralysed and unable to talk properly, and has a nerve condition which causes constant pain in his face.
His mother now only treats him with cannabis oil and claims there is ‘no doubt’ it has shrunk his tumour, giving them the ‘only good news they’ve had in years’.
Cannabis oil, which is currently illegal, will become available on medical prescription for some patients from November 1 in the UK.
Despite Ms Yearwood’s and other enthusiastic claims, experts have repeatedly insisted there is zero evidence cannabis has any helpful impact on cancer.
Kai Yearwood, from Kenley in London, was diagnosed with a rare brain tumour called a ganglioglioma when he was just three years old, and his mother says the harsh treatment left him partly paralysed and unable to speak
‘There’s no doubt that cannabis oil is the reason Kai’s tumour has shrunk,’ said Ms Yearwood, who cares for her son full-time.
‘He has battled his brain tumour since he was three and despite being told numerous times that he’s terminal, I’m hopeful we are going to get rid of his tumour.
‘Kai has been rendered useless as treatment such as chemotherapy, surgery and radiotherapy has damaged his brain.
‘He is paralysed down his left hand side and both his speech and vision have been left damaged.
‘But now I’m confident and hopeful that he will regain his independence someday as his tumour shrinks.’
Brain scans in August revealed her son’s tumour had gotten smaller after she refused to keep giving him conventional medical treatment.
Instead, he takes cannabis oil every day, which is currently illegal.
CBD oil, which does not contain the psychoactive chemical THC, which is what gives people a high and makes cannabis illegal.
But cannabis oil containing the chemical is still outlawed, although it will be made legal on prescription for certain conditions at the beginning of next month.
Cannabis oil is most likely to be given to children with epilepsy, because it is believed to reduce seizures, and may also be prescribed for multiple sclerosis.
Kai’s mother, Victoria Yearwood, 43, first thought her son had Prader-Willi syndrome, the same illness as Harvey Price, because he was so much larger than other children the same age as him
Kai had surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy to treat his tumour, which is not cancerous but can cause disability by growing and damaging nerve cells in the brain
DOES CANNABIS HELP CANCER?
By David Robert Grimes, a cancer researcher at Queen’s University Belfast, for The Conversation
A 2017 review by the National Academy of Science looked at over 10,000 studies.
They found evidence for some applications of cannabis, including managing chronic pain and spasms associated with multiple sclerosis.
There was also good evidence that tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main psychoactive ingredient in cannabis, can reduce the nausea caused by chemotherapy. Indeed, a synthetic form of THC, called dronabinol, has been prescribed for just this use for decades.
But, crucially, there is zero evidence that cannabis has any curative or even helpful impact on cancer, despite enthusiastic claims to the contrary.
Why then is there such a gulf between public perception and scientific evidence? Part of this is misunderstanding. For example, an often aired claim is that high-dose THC kills cancer cells in a petri dish. This is true, but not very meaningful.
Killing cells in a dish is extremely easy; you can do so with anything from heat to bleach. But effective anti-cancer agents must be able to selectively kill cancer cells in the human body while sparing healthy ones. The reality is that cannabis simply cannot do this.
Ms Yearwood said: ‘He has the cannabis oil every day now and we’re no longer subjecting him to any other harsh treatments.
‘As parents we do get criticised by strangers online for using the cannabis oil but it’s easing our child’s pain so why wouldn’t we use it?
‘Kai has been through so much in his short life and due to his illness he hasn’t got many friends.
‘With hindsight I wish he’d only ever had cannabis oil knowing what I do now, and things might have been a lot different for him.’
Ms Yearwood first thought her son had the same condition as Katie Price’s son, Harvey, because he was so big as a child.
Harvey has Prader-Willi syndrome, which leaves people constantly hungry – often leading to obesity – and slows their brain development.
She saw the same doctor as the former model’s son, who confirmed it was not the same illness but scans revealed Kai had a rare brain tumour called a ganglioglioma instead.
Gangliogliomas are typically small, slow-growing, non-cancerous tumours which grow in nerve cells in the brain.
Symptoms can include seizures, headache, vomiting, fatigue, and weakness on one side of the body.
‘We were all devastated and it has been a rollercoaster ever since the diagnosis,’ Ms Yearwood said.
‘He has been left with trigeminal neuralgia, which causes chronic nerve pain in the face which is horrific, but the oil has helped tremendously with this also.
‘His latest scan results were such a surprise, we haven’t had any good news in years.
‘I was initially giving him the oil to help with his pain as it had helped him come off some heavy opiates such as maximum doses of morphine, tramadol and diazepam.
‘But now we know it’s actually causing the tumour to slow down as well it’s amazing.’
Kai’s mother has stopped him having any more conventional treatments (pictured: before brain surgery in hospital, with mapping devices stuck to his head to help guide the surgeon) and gives him cannabis oil every day instead, which she says has shrunk his tumour and has him feeling better
Victoria Yearwood says cannabis oil has helped with her son’s nerve pain in his face, as well as shrinking his brain tumour and making him feel healthier in general
Ms Yearwood hopes treating her son with cannabis will one day restore his ability to walk and talk normally, after she says radiotherapy and surgery left him with nerve damage
Ms Yearwood is optimistic that the cannabis oil will continue to improve her son’s condition, and hopes he will one day be able to walk and talk normally.
‘He does seem much better in himself, too,’ she said. ‘Which is no surprise when the mass is actually shrinking.
‘It’s a miracle that after all this time we might actually be able to cure Kai. My hope for the future is that one day he can walk unaided and talk fluently again.
‘At the moment he can walk around 10 steps and his speech is slurred.
‘I hope any other parents who are going through something similar read our story and try cannabis oil as it has literally saved Kai’s life.
‘There will always be people ready to judge you but unless someone has been in your situation they have no right to pass comments.’
To read more visit the ‘Kai Yearwood fights Brain Tumour’ page on Facebook.
THE LANDMARK CASE OF BILLY CALDWELL THAT PROMPTED THE GOVERNMENT TO CHANGE ITS STANCE ON MEDICINAL CANNABIS
Billy Caldwell’s mother Charlotte (pictured together) had seven bottles of cannabis oil confiscated at Heathrow Airport customs, prompting a row over cannabis oil
Cannabis oil was thrust into the limelight when epileptic boy Billy Caldwell’s mother had seven bottles confiscated at Heathrow Airport customs.
The 12-year-old sparked a row over the medicinal status of the oil, prompting the Home Office to step in and grant his mother Charlotte an emergency licence for his product that was calming his seizures, which contained THC.
Billy’s bottles were confiscated on June 11 after she brought them in from Toronto.
On the back of the cases of Billy and fellow epileptic boy Alfie Dingley, six, Home Secretary Sajid Javid called for a review into medicinal cannabis.
In a major shift of policy, he announced in July that some products containing the drug would be available on prescription in the UK from the autumn.
And earlier this week it was revealed cannabis-based products for medicinal use will only be available for specialist doctors – not GPs – to prescribe legally.
Officials have yet to confirm which medicines may be prescribed, but said they must be regulated as a medicinal product.