A cancer-affected mother is fundraising for a controversial treatment that is not available at the NHS in the belief that it will help her live longer.
Katherine Oliver, 64, was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2003. After receiving radiotherapy, she was told that the disease had disappeared, only that it returned four times in the next 13 years.
By May 2018, the cancer had reached Mrs. Oliver's bones, lungs, and liver. Although she tried chemo, the disease progressed, making her unable to take care of herself.
Because doctors warned that there was not much they could do, Oliver came across a woman on Facebook who claimed to cure her stage four cancer with insulin-enhanced therapy (IPT).
Mrs. Oliver, from Hampton, London, chose to skip conventional treatment and paid £ 50,000 ($ 63,670) for 10 rounds of unproven therapy, which simultaneously delivers insulin as chemotherapy, at a clinic in Istanbul.
The former lawyer claims that IPT has shrunk its tumors by 90 percent. She has exhausted her savings and appeals to the public to help her pay for the therapy.
But cancer experts warn that there is & # 39; no strong evidence & # 39; is that IPT works, adding that it can disrupt treatments and be harmful. They also said it is dangerous for patients to skip conventional therapies that are known to be safe and effective.
Katherine Oliver (shown in June 2017) claims that a controversial treatment that is not available on the NHS is her & # 39; terminal & # 39; cancer has shrunk by 90 percent. However, it costs £ 50,000 ($ 63,670) for 10 treatment rounds and Oliver has exhausted & # 39; her savings & # 39;
Oliver was diagnosed with breast cancer for the first time in 2003. After having received radiotherapy, she was told that the tumor had disappeared, but that it would return four times in the next 13 years. She was pictured in May last year with her daughter Tara (second from the right), son Laurence and his fiancée Bibi
Ms. Oliver underwent six weeks of radiotherapy at Parkside Hospital in Wimbledon after being diagnosed with breast cancer 16 years ago.
The mother of two believed she had beaten killer disease until she found a lump almost a decade later in January 2012.
She then underwent a double breast amputation, as well as five-month preventive chemotherapy in the event that malignant cells float around.
Mrs. Oliver, mother of Tara, 30, and Laurence, 28, said: & I was incredibly nauseous. I could barely stand, only stumbling from my bedroom to my bathroom. & # 39;
Even when her chemo ended and things seemed to look up, Mrs. Oliver claims that she fought for four years with her balance, memory and energy levels.
Things then took a dramatic turn when in September 2016 Mrs. Oliver still felt a bump in her chest.
An MRI scan revealed that the cancer had spread throughout her body, causing her chances of survival to plummet.
& # 39; Doctors have given me two to three years & # 39 ;, Oliver said. & # 39; They said it was treatable but not curable. & # 39;
Mrs. Oliver then started five months of chemo at the Royal Marsden in London. This initially caused the tumors to shrink from her liver and only returned 12 weeks later.
Although this course was & # 39; a lot friendlier than the previous & # 39 ;, Oliver anti-hormonal medication was & # 39; drunk & # 39; to feel.
Anti-hormonal medication can be effective if a patient's breast cancer is stimulated by the hormone estrogen. The drugs block the effects of estrogen and inhibit the growth of the tumor.
Because her medication seemed to have little effect, Mrs. Oliver chose to completely stop treatment around July last year.
She couldn't take care of herself and trusted her two children to push her around in a wheelchair.
In the photo left with her daughter left in June 2017, Oliver discovered in May last year that the cancer had reached her bones, lungs and liver. Desperate, Mrs. Oliver (pictured right with her children in September 2016) ran into a woman who claimed she had cured her stage four cancer with insulin-boosted therapy while conducting her own research in May 2018
Desperately, Mrs. Oliver came across a Facebook group where a patient claimed she had cured her advanced cancer with IPT.
IPT involves the administration of insulin to cancer patients at the same time as chemotherapy.
Proponents claim that cancer cells secrete insulin and insulin-like growth factors to stimulate their growth.
Administering insulin probably causes the hormone to attach to receptors on the cancer membranes. The theory states that chemo is then channeled & # 39; & # 39; in cancer cells and she kills.
When Mrs. Oliver asked her doctors about the treatment, she claims she & # 39; no idea & # 39; what she was talking about.
Mrs. Oliver contacted doctors abroad and flew to Turkey for treatment later in September – despite doctors warning her that she was too weak to fly.
During her first visit to the clinic in Istanbul, Oliver was treated for 12 days, which beat her to six & # 39 ;.
Not being able to cope with exhaustion, her second round of treatment lasted only 10 days, making her feel much better and able to do things for herself & # 39 ;.
Mrs. Oliver paid £ 50,000 for ten treatment rounds in Istanbul. She felt & # 39; much better and able to do things & # 39 ;. She is pictured on vacation with her children in May of last year in Kas, Turkey
Mrs. Oliver (pictured last year with her daughter on Mother's Day) has spent all her money and appeals to the public to help her pay for the therapy that will give her a & # 39; long life & # 39; could give
Mrs. Oliver continued this regime until April of this year and flew three consecutive days every two weeks.
When MRI scans were performed in the UK, they would have shown that her cancer was practically gone.
Doctors notes from 2 February say: & The previously noted metabolically active nodules in both breasts have disappeared.
& # 39; Similarly, the metabolic active mediastinal (the area of the breast that separates the lungs) lymph nodes have disappeared. & # 39;
WHAT IS INSULIN POTENTIZED THERAPY?
Insulin-enhanced therapy (IPT) involves the simultaneous administration of the hormone insulin to cancer patients and chemotherapy.
This would allow a lower dose of chemotherapy due to insulin, allowing more of the drug to invade cancer cells.
The treatment is not available on the NHS and is & # 39; never experimentally proven & quot ;, according to the Cancer Association of South Africa.
The Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center states that there is no data to support the claim that IPT treats cancer.
Proponents of the alternative treatment claim that the healthy tissue saves from the harmful effects of chemo.
They claim that cancer cells secrete insulin and insulin-like growth factors (IGF & # 39; s) to stimulate their growth.
Insulin presumably attaches itself to cell membrane receptors, which are said to be 16 times more concentrated on cancer cells than normal ones.
The theory states that chemo is & # 39; channeled & # 39; in cancer cells, it kills and reduces or eliminates side effects.
Insulin is a hormone that plays a key role in regulating blood sugar levels.
It does this by signaling to the liver, muscles and fat that it absorbs glucose from the blood to be used for energy.
However, if a diabetic administers too much insulin, it may cause his blood sugar level to become dangerously low, known as hypoglycaemia.
If left untreated, hypoglycaemia can lead to deadly brain damage.
It can also cause patients to end up in a diabetic coma, which can be fatal.
The comments added: & # 39; The previously noted metabolically active infiltrates in both lungs have also shown an improvement.
& # 39; The appearance is consistent with an excellent response to the full solution treatment of most disease sites. & # 39;
Ms. Oliver claims that the only treatment she had between scans was IPT.
She adds that her consultants at Royal Marsden & # 39; are surprised and enthusiastic about her future & # 39 ;.
However, they cannot prescribe treatments outside of the official guidelines. IPT is not approved on the NHS.
Watchdogs from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, which guides the NHS on which drugs to prescribe, refused to say why.
After she had exhausted her savings, Oliver turned to her friends and family for help, but that money has now dried up.
& # 39; I spent every penny I have, & # 39; she said.
& # 39; I have so little money now, but it is a life and death situation. I realized how much I wanted to live. & # 39;
After the side effects and poor results that Oliver had had with chemo in the past, she shuns conventional treatment for a cocktail of & # 39; alternative cancer drugs & # 39 ;.
These include statins, metformin, and antiparasitic medication, which it is convinced they will & # 39; stop its tumor metabolization & # 39 ;. However, none of them has been proven to work and the evidence is cloudy.
Ever since she got rid of IPT, Oliver claims that she has taken a quick turn and has lost all her appetite.
Although she has not ruled out that she has chemo again as a last resort, Oliver says it would only cost her a little more time.
& # 39; I believe I can live a long life if I can continue to receive this treatment in Istanbul, & # 39; she said.
However, oncologists warn that the alternative treatment & # 39; unproven & # 39; and & # 39; significant risk & # 39; s & # 39; can have.
Senior researcher nurse Julia Frater from Cancer Research UK told MailOnline: There is no strong evidence that IPT can successfully treat or cure any type of cancer.
& # 39; Unproven alternative therapies such as these can be dangerous because they can disrupt ongoing treatment and cause serious damage.
& # 39; Or people can even opt for these methods instead of conventional therapies that are proven to be safe and effective.
& # 39; There may also be eye care costs, which can keep cancer patients and their families in a very difficult financial position.
& # 39; Everyone has the right to make their own treatment decisions, but it is vital that they fully understand what conventional treatments can offer and the high risk of replacing them with unproven therapies. & # 39;
Dr. Justin Stebbing, from the Surgery and Cancer Department at Imperial College in London, told MailOnline about his concerns about IPT.
He said: & # 39; I would like to see IPT evaluated in clinical trials, but there are no data. Mrs Oliver sees potential benefits because her chemo from the past has a "dragging effect".
& # 39; I believe that IPT could cause harm through hypoglycaemia, which is life threatening. I always treat people like they're my mother or sister – and I'd be scared. & # 39;
Anyone who wants to donate to Mrs. Oliver can do this on her fundraising page here .
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