A four-year-old whose parents were told he was dying of an aggressive brain tumour has recovered enough to go to school – thanks to cannabis.
William Frost was diagnosed with an ependymoma brain tumour in 2014 – and after surgery and chemotherapy, parents Steve and Hilary were told last year that he was dying.
A private clinic prescribed cannabidiol (CBD) – a cannabis product which does not contain tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the chemical which produces the ‘high’.
A few months later, his tumour had shrunk by two-thirds, and William was well enough to return to school.
Steve, 36, and Hilary, 34, are now backing new research by experts at Nottingham’s Children’s Brain Tumour Research Centre, at the University of Nottingham, into whether CBD can reduce paediatric brain cancer cells.
Steve, who is also dad to one-year-old Charlotte, said: ‘In late 2013, we started noticing William’s head tilting to the right-hand side – no one had ever seen anything like it before.
‘His balance was off, and he started vomiting randomly – so we took him to the GP.
‘They referred us to the ear, nose and throat clinic, but things got so bad that we took him to A&E.
‘After a few days, they realised something was quite seriously wrong, and did an MRI scan – that’s when they discovered a tumour the size of a golf ball.
After reading evidence about the effect of cannabis on tumours, Steve and Hilary found a clinic in the UK willing to prescribe William CBD – an oil containing a synthetic cannabis compound.
Steve said: ‘We couldn’t bear to accept there were no more options for William.
‘We were desperate and willing to try anything – when we read the research on cannabis and tumours it gave us hope.
‘It cost us £2,000 for a nine month supply, but we wanted to make sure we were giving William the best quality stuff – we gave it to him diluted in water.”
William’s consultant Professor Richard Grundy, who’s leading the research project, said: ‘Brain tumours are the biggest cancer killer of children in the UK but the disease receives less than one per cent of the UK’s cancer research funding.
‘Increasingly families are using CBD, often at great expense, presently there is no evidence that it might be of benefit or even what dose to use or how often.
‘It is therefore very important to obtain objective scientific evidence of whether CBD is active against children’s brain tumour cell lines.”
For more information on William’s journey and project fundraising, visit https://makewilliamwell.com/
What is CBD oil – and what can it treat?
Last year, a government regulator said that CBD has a ‘restoring’ effect on humans – and is a legitimate medicine.
But its effects on cancer are still not proven – although many patients seek out the medicine on their own.
The MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulation Agency) says that cannabidiol has a ‘restoring, correcting or modifying’ effect on ‘physiological functions’.
‘Cannabidiol’ (CBD), is a chemical from cannabis which campaigners claim helps with diseases including cancer and Crohn’s disease.
Crucially, CBD products don’t contain any THC, the chemical in cannabis which causes the high – and it is legal in the UK.