In July, Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio — that’s right, Jack and Rose! — made headlines by auctioning off a chance to share some dinners with fans. They weren’t just any dinners, however, but prizes to support a fundraiser for the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation and the Gemma Nuttall Cancer Fund. Now, we have an update and let’s just say, it’s pretty fantastic.
The story begins with Gemma Nuttall, a 28-year-old mother who has been battling brain and lung cancer. Over four years ago, Nuttall was diagnosed with ovarian and cervical cancer while she was pregnant. She refused treatment at the time because it meant terminating her pregnancy. Once her daughter, Penelope, now three, was born, doctors gave Nuttall six months to live.
The young mother sought immunotherapy treatments at the The Hallwang, a private oncology clinic in Germany, which could cost up to $98,000 a visit. Her family started a petition on Change.org.uk to have the treatment available on the National Health Service in the U.K., as well as a GoFundMe fundraiser in hopes Nuttall could travel to Germany for the potentially live-saving treatments.
That’s where Winslet came in. While her own mother was battling ovarian cancer, the actress had stumbled upon the treatment places in Germany while searching for help. In her search, she also found Nuttall’s petition.
“My heart sunk at that point,” Winslet explained when she called into the British talk show “This Morning” to surprise Nuttall. “I thought, ‘this poor young woman is probably years away from her being able to access that kind of treatment on the National Health Service.’”
Winslet then contacted Nuttall’s mother, Helen, and began raising funds for the treatment in Germany. They were able to raise £200,000 (around $280,000), but £300,000 was needed. So Winslet called her longtime pal and “Titanic” co-star DiCaprio for help.
“I phoned Leo and I said, ‘Do you think we could do a charity dinner or something?’ And he said, ‘Let’s go one better. Come with me to St. Tropez, to my big fundraiser for the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation…and we will auction off a dinner with Jack and Rose,'” Winslet explained, according to US Weekly.
In July, the couple auctioned off three dinners together and raised $1.35 million to split between Nuttall and DiCaprio’s own foundation, which is focused on environmental conservation.
The most amazing news? Nuttall got her treatments and was given the all-clear in October.
Together they raised so much money that not only was Nuttall helped, but Winslet also set up another foundation to help other patients.
“So much good has come out of this situation,” Winslet said. “I mean look at Gemma — look at her! She is so beautiful, she is alive, she is cancer-free. It is utterly incredible. I feel so blessed that I could help.”
Winslet’s mother passed away in May 2017 after years battling ovarian cancer. But the actress aid she believes she would have been incredibly proud of her for helping Nuttall.
The GoFundMe page remains active in case more funds are needed for treatment and to help Nuttall and her young daughter enjoy life together after years of hardship.
“I know we cannot give her a guaranteed year — two, four, six years, but what we can do is either contribute a donation so we have extra funds to allow us to buy a day trip out, a holiday somewhere…making memories with Penelope is vital,” Nuttall’s mother writes on the fundraiser page. “A trip to the cinema, a weekend in London, a helicopter ride, or maybe even a trip to see the Northern Lights. I honestly don’t know what ‘it’ is, but they must have it.”
For updates on Nuttall’s prognosis or to donate to her care, visit the family’s GoFundMe page.