A mum who was given weeks to live after she shunned chemotherapy has baffled doctors by treating her cancer — with illegal super strength cannabis and Manuka honey.
Susan Dhillon, 51, a mum-of-three, was diagnosed with inoperable stage four cancer of the mouth, nose and lower skull in June 2018.
Doctors said unless she had chemotherapy – and then incredibly risky facial surgery – her only option was end of life care.
But despite the tumours growing at a rate of 5% a month, she shunned the invasive treatment.
She started taking a near-pure form of illegal cannabis tablets which her friend makes at home, by growing her own cannabis plants and using oil to make tablets.
Sue, a grandmother-of-one, then buys the drug from her friend at a cost price of around £16 a day.
It has an 80% cannabinoid strength – 78.8% over the legal treatments – and contains THC, the principal psychoactive constituent of the drug.
And after five months of taking a tablet a day, doctors were shocked to discover some of the tumours had disappeared, and others had stopped growing or shrunk.
A letter from her “pleasantly surprised “consultant confirms the regression and states: “I can only conclude that Mrs Dhillon appears to have gained significant benefit from the Manuka honey and Cannabis oil treatment”.
Nine months since her diagnosis, a scan carried out last month showed “encouraging” results – her disease was found to be “completely stable” with no sign of progression.
Susan is now holding out hope she will one day soon enter remission and is still taking a cannabis tablet every day.
Sue, a former NHS prescription administrator, from Slough, said: “It’s an absolute miracle.
“I was told I could die in weeks or months. They told me it was inoperable.
“Any hope I had just vanished when they said I didn’t have long.
“I was basically told there’s nothing they can do.
“I didn’t want chemotherapy because the side effects are awful. It just wasn’t the right thing for me to do.
“All I wanted to do was achieve life. I wanted to live for as long as I could.
“When I got these results I felt like I had been handed a lifeline. It felt like someone had given me a second chance at life.
“I was over the moon. It was the best news I could possibly have been told.
“I didn’t think I’d see my next birthday. The cannabis is keeping the cancer at bay.”
Sue went to the doctors after food started to come out of her nose while she was eating and she noticed she had holes in her mouth, in May last year.
She was fast-tracked to see specialists at Wexham Park Hospital, Slough, for an urgent cancer referral and given an MRI scan and a biopsy.
Two weeks later, in June last year, she was told she had stage 4 advanced sinonasal carcinoma involving the skull – a rare cancer of the nasal cavity.
Sue, said: “I went through a really sad time with my family.
“I didn’t know what to do with myself and spent a lot of the time being very upset. I went through a time of crying whenever I was awake.”
Letters between experts describe her case as “very difficult” and the tumours as “extensive”.
In letters, experts said her treatment options were either chemotherapy followed by very risky surgery, or palliative radiotherapy.
The letter, from July last year, said the surgery was associated with “significant morbidity” and if she chose radiotherapy “ultimately the cancer will continue to grow and will not be cured”.
“I felt like there was no hope for me,” said Sue, who is single.
“I didn’t want chemotherapy. It’s not natural and I don’t believe in it.
“It wasn’t right for me. I didn’t want to have to deal with those side effects.
“If l only had a few weeks left then I wanted to stay healthy and happy, so I looked for another option on my own.
“I took to the internet to look for an alternative treatment.
“I wasn’t going to just settle for it.
“I saw a lot of people talking on forums about cannabis oil and how it was helping them.
“I was willing to try anything. I didn’t know what else I could do.”
Susan has three children, Dyl Find, 28, Satnam Dhillon, 25, Monica Dhillon, 22 and one granddaughter, Shakira Thind, aged four.
She found out about a type of cannabis oil called Rick Simpson oil, and then discovered an old school friend, who has MS, was making her own tablets from the substance.
Rick Simpson oil is different from the CBD oil – which is available on the NHS in cases of “exceptional clinical need” – because it is much more potent.
It contains psychoactive substance THC, which is the part of the drug that makes people feel ‘high’.
Rick Simpson oil isn’t available on the NHS and is illegal in the UK, and the version Sue uses contains around 80% THC, she said.
Sue took her first 1mg tablet in July last year, shortly after scan results showed the tumours in her mouth and throat were growing at 5% a month, she claims.
Sue said: “They make me feel very sleepy and very hungry but all three of my kids look after me.
“I don’t feel the pain anymore either and I did have pain before. I used to get headaches a lot and I was very sore.
“I pick up a new lot every month from my friend. I was scared and didn’t know what else I could do.”
After five months of daily doses, Sue went back to hospital in December for a scan to see if her tumours had grown.
Incredibly, her consultant was stunned to find “no obvious sign” of a tumour in her mouth or nasal cavity – despite being diagnosed with advanced tumours in both areas six months earlier.
The consultant was “pleasantly surprised” to see the cancer had regressed, and told Sue he was happy for her to continue taking the illegal cannabis oil drug.
In a letter to Sue, dated February 7 this year, he said: “When I first saw Mrs. Dhillon in June 2018, the sinonasal cancer appeared to be very aggressive.
“When I reviewed Mrs Dhillon on January 17 I was pleasantly surprised to see regression of the cancer in the oral cavity with no evidence of any obvious tumour in the palate (roof of the mouth).
“There is no evidence of any active cancer in the nasal cavity.
“A CT scan in December 2018 has also confirmed stable disease with no evidence of any progression.
“Although I am unable to explain the possible healing properties of the treatment, I can only conclude that Mrs. Dhillon appears to have gained significant benefits from the Manuka honey and cannabis oil treatment.
“I have no objection to her continuing with the cannabis oil treatment.”
Sue received the positive scan results a few days before Christmas and three weeks before her 51st birthday in January.
For her and her family, the news was “the best Christmas present ever”.
She said: “I got the results just before Christmas Eve. It showed it hadn’t progressed anymore.
“I can’t tell you how happy I was. In June I didn’t think I’d be still here.
“I didn’t know if I’d see another Christmas. It was like I was given a lifeline.
“I was over the moon. I was so relieved about how things had turned out.
“It’s a miracle medication.
“My doctor said he was happy for me to take something that’s illegal.”
Her prolonged survival also gave her the chance to enjoy Mother’s Day with her loved ones.
She said: “I was able to enjoy an absolutely lovely Mother’s Day. All my kids came round and my granddaughter made me a card.
“They gave me flowers and roses and it was lovely.
“I have been able to spend more time with my daughter. She is my baby and is really important to me.
“I love my family and family time is really important to me. I want to be able to spend as much time as possible with them.”
Sue has also separately been prescribed Sativex – the first cannabis-based medicine to be licensed in the UK that has only been available since December 1 last year.
She claims she is the first cancer patient in the UK to be prescribed the drug on the NHS, and started taking earlier this month.
Sativex is prepared from cannabis plants and contains THC and CBD in equal proportions.
Sue’s recent scan results showed her cancer is being kept at bay – but she faces a longer wait to find out if her cancer will regress any further or totally disappeared.
“If it doesn’t grow any more then I will be able to live with it,” she said.
“I’ve just got to hope it continues to keep it at bay.”
Sue says before taking her tablets she has “never taken” drugs before.
She says her case is “proof” that medicinal cannabis can be used treat cancer.
Sue wants “all cancer patients” to be prescribed medicinal cannabis so others can benefit in the same way she has.
“I have never taken drugs before. When I had the first tablet it was the first time for me”, said Sue.
She added: “This is proof it can treat cancer. I am doing perfectly fine. I say make it available for other cancer patients.
“It has given me a reason to live again. It has had such a positive impact on my life.
“I am hopeful for the future now. I am 99% sure the next scan will show no further progression.”