A mother-of-three who was given months to live after being diagnosed with stage four pancreatic cancer claims she used organic juices to shrink her tumours, so she could survive to watch her daughter walk down the aisle.
Julie Shaw, 54, discovered the disease had spread to her lungs and liver and was warned there was just a five to 10 per cent chance of chemotherapy working, after her diagnosis on July 29 this year.
After watching her friend experience gruelling side effects from conventional chemo, Julie decided she didn’t want to spend her final months bedridden.
She began researching alternative treatments and discovered the Berkson Protocol, an immunity-boosting regime, aimed at slowing the growth of pancreatic tumours.
Julie switched to a mainly vegetarian and organic nutrient-rich diet and spent two hours a day juicing which she claims has helped stopped the spread of her cancer – and allowed her to share her daughter Katie’s special day.
Julie has also started special low-dose chemotherapy treatment which is available privately in Germany at a cost of £15,000 for four weeks.
Julie Shaw, from West Yorkshire, pictured here with daugther Katie on her wedding day, was told the disease had spread to lungs and liver
Australia-based Katie had her wedding at East Riddlesden Hall, West Yorkshire – which was brought forward from June 2018 to September this year, so her mother could go
Julie was warned there was just a five to 10 per cent chance of chemotherapy working
Dr Burt Berkson claims he has created a holistic program for patients that combines conventional medicine, vitamin and herbal supplements, nutrition, healthy lifestyle practices.
Dr Berkson has a medical centre in New Mexico and also advocates the use of antioxidants like alpha lipoic acid.
He has written a book, called Alpha Lipoic Acid Breakthrough: The Superb Antioxidant That May Slow Aging, Repair Liver Damage, and Reduce the Risk of Cancer, Heart Disease, and Diabetes.
He says this coenzyme occurs naturally in younger bodies but gradually diminishes with age, which he says ‘may very well be one of our best defenses against disease and aging’.
Julie of East Morton, West Yorkshire, said: ‘I wanted to make the most of life and that included going to my daughter’s wedding.
‘I was worried I wouldn’t be here for Katie’s wedding but straight after my diagnosis, Katie and Joel said they would move the wedding.
‘Even then, I worried I would be really ill on the day and wouldn’t enjoy it properly.
‘But the day was perfect – I loved it and it meant so much to me and to Katie that I was able to see her walk down the aisle. I was even able to dance late into the evening with her.’
Mistaken for IBS
Julie, who ran a business providing care for children and the elderly, before her illness, drew up a bucket list, with the help of her family, to be completed in the short time she has left.
It included a trip to see family in South Africa, which she completed in October, and attending Australia-based Katie’s wedding at East Riddlesden Hall, West Yorkshire – which was brought forward from June 2018 to September this year, so she could go.
Julie’s nightmare started several months before her diagnosis, with ongoing digestive problems, which GPs believed were caused by irritable bowel syndrome – a common disorder with symptoms including cramping and abdominal pain.
The 54-year-old and her son Jamie during her targeted chemotherapy treatment in Germany
Katie was estatic to be able to spend her big day with with her mother Julie, pictured here with her bridesmaids
Julie pictured here with Katie at the wedding and her other daughter Rebecca
But she was in so much pain during a holiday to Mallorca in July, that she went straight to A&E at Bradford Royal infirmary when she came home – leading to the shocking diagnosis.
Other than stents, or tubes, to aid digestion, she was not offered surgery, as the tumour is inoperable.
Then, in September, her oncologist said only strong chemo, with potentially adverse side effects and a five to 10 per cent chance of extending her life, was available on the NHS.
Following this grim news, Julie, her daughters drama teacher Katie Sharp, 27, and project manager, Rebecca Bentley, 29, from Bristol, her son, Jamie Shaw, 23, a property developer, and self-employed husband Jeremy Shaw, 53, started searching for alternatives.
Julie, who switched to a mainly vegetarian and organic nutrient-rich diet, said: ‘After finding the cancer charity, Yes to Life, we researched the Berkson Protocol.
‘It’s an immune-boosting approach founded by a US doctor, which I believe medical journals across the world have recognised for slowing down the growth of pancreatic cancer.’
Julie recovering in hospital after having a stent operation to improve her digestion
The mother-of-three switched to a mainly vegetarian and organic nutrient-rich diet
Taking over 30 supplements, including oregano oil and turmeric, in August, Julie began drinking two litres of organic cold pressed juices a day – made up of 3kg of carrots, five beetroots and two bunches of celery.
The drinks, which take two hours a day to make, are cold pressed rather than blended, in order to extract the juice from the vegetables.
Rebecca said: ‘My brother was really keen juicer, but we all did it. We would do anything to help mum.’
Rebecca, Jamie and Katie also took their mother to Hightree Medical Clinic in Uckfield, East Sussex, three or four times a week for a month, to receive vitamin supplements via IV drips as it was the only place that offered it.
Rebecca continued: ‘We weren’t having any scans at that point, but Mum was suddenly walking for an hour, or going out to a restaurant for dinner, or sleeping better and building an appetite.
‘We realised the results were there in front of our faces. She was having a better quality of life by doing this treatment.
‘The theory was that if we kept her body as strong as possible, to fight the cancer by itself, then it should slow it right down.’
But, she has refused to give in and, after meeting patients with similar conditions at Hightree, she learned how some had lived for years beyond the weeks they were originally given by doctors.
Fundraising for chemo
One of the treatments she discovered was a special, targeted, low-dose chemotherapy, available privately at the Hufeland Klinik in Germany, costing £15,000 for four weeks of treatment.
To raise money for the special chemo, she formed ‘Team Julie’ and started a fundraising page, and, supported by her local community, held golf days, bingo nights and a Christmas elf themed walk.
‘People are really pulling together. A lot of people are behind her,’ said Rebecca. ‘We think the alternative treatments have made a big difference.
Katie and Julie have their memories of a very special day when she married Joel
‘Of course, we don’t know what would have happened without them, but I suspect she wouldn’t have been walking around, being the mother of the bride, getting on aeroplanes and feeling up for chemotherapy – so she’s in a really good position now.’
On November 13, Julie flew to Germany, to start targeted chemotherapy at the Hufeland Klinik. It will include three weeks of a lower dose of chemo than the NHS version, lowering the risk of severe side effects. If it goes well, she may need another round early next year.
Scans and blood tests since she has been there have revealed that her pancreas and liver tumours have not grown in size since she was diagnosed in July.
Doctors have also told her that her liver seems to be regenerating and that, while the number of cancer cells in her blood have increased, they have not either formed any new tumours, or increased the size of existing ones.
Julie added: ‘It’s amazing. I just can’t believe it and I am so grateful to all my family, friends and kind strangers, who have all helped to raise money to make my treatment possible.’
To donate towards Julie’s cause, visit here.