Homeopathy Papers

Brain Cancer and Three Months to Live

Written by Gemma Hoefkens

Homeopath Gemma Hoefkens shares her experience of being given a diagnosis of brain cancer with three months to live. She discusses her discovery of homeopathy at a crucial moment.

I had brain cancer and was given 3 months to live. That was in 1996, and I was 26 years old. In a nutshell, after radiology and chemotherapy failed me, I was given three choices:  stay in hospital, go to a hospice – they had a place booked for me, or go home.

I decided to go home, which seemed the best choice to me. Patients in my ward had been given their last rights and often screaming in pain from their aliments and were dying around me.  I was told I might feel more comfortable in a hospice. In my mind, they were places for people to die.

I had recently discovered homeopathy at that point and later experienced the remarkable effects of homeopathy on me. I have never needed to go to an orthodox doctor and neither have I taken any of their medicines since. I consult my homeopath.

A little about myself and before these events happened. I was born in 1969 in Birmingham in the UK. I was the last of seven children and brought up as a Catholic and went to Catholic convent school. I continued my education and obtained a degree in Social Science. I then moved to London where I worked for a few years in administration. I was getting strange symptoms. I could see sparkling stars circling my head which would happen a couple of days a week but I found they were getting more frequent.

I was chatting to my administration manager about this and she immediately arranged that I take a taxi to see the works doctor. He examined me and told me to take a taxi straight away to St. Bartholomew’s hospital A&E.

He handed me a sealed letter he had written and told me to give it to the doctors there. He stressed that I was to wait there until I was seen, how ever long it would be on this busy Friday evening in a London hospital.

The outcome was that I needed to have emergency treatment for hydrocephalus. A shunt was inserted into my scull to my abdomen to drain off the excess cerebral fluid. I still have it inside me now.

I recovered well but my new employers were noticing my memory loss. This wasn’t about where have I put my keys. It was that I didn’t remember my house number or instructions of what I should be doing at work, and socially what time I had arranged to meet up with a friend.

You see when you have a really bad memory problem you don’t know you have a memory problem as you can’t remember that you had forgotten to do or go somewhere. I couldn’t understand why people were getting cross with me. I’d sleep and people couldn’t wake me up.

For example, I’d fallen asleep on the sofa and my house mates couldn’t wake me. They tried calling me and even turning the sofa around the room with no effect. My sisters told me about my spatial awareness. They were terrified of me knocking thing off the shelves in a shop. Also, I had double vision but strangely only around the perimeter of my eye sight at that time.

I’d been to several appointments to the doctors to report these symptoms, fearing that my shunt wasn’t working. I’d have an MRI scan only to be told there was nothing wrong with it.

On one occasion I went to a neurologist to discuss my scan and was told I was either taking drugs or I was mad or he’d missed something. My sister had accompanied me so she could remind me of what had been said when I forgot later that day.

She was fuming at his remarks. She knew that I didn’t take drugs and as a psychologist herself we arranged for an appointment with a psychologist and discovered that I was indeed, not mad….proving he had missed something.

After continuing regular checks and scans a doctor told me, “You know this is probably cancer, don’t you”. Eventually they had found small tumours, about the size of a finger nail, on my pineal and pituitary gland. They told me they were too small to do anything about them as I was coping with them and were in a place in my brain where it was too dangerous for them to be surgically removed.

Over time my tumours did get bigger and I had a stereotactic biopsy which resulted in the oncologist advising me to have radiology. After these sessions I was told that it had not done enough and I was to have more radiology but directed at my tumours not just on the head in general, as before. They discovered my tumours had seeded to two parts of my spine.

All this treatment and the drugs took its toll. In one weekend all my hair fell out. I’d put on 4 stone in 4 weeks, probably from the steroids. All the drugs had constipation as a contra indication.

For months nothing was coming out of me. My bladder was also semi paralysed, so I was keeping my urine in too. The MacMillan nurse advised me to put on an eye patch to help me with my double vision. My skin had stretched so much that I had purple stripes on my thighs, under my arms and on my back as the steroids had increased my appetite and had stretched my skin for it to grow that quickly.

My eyes got worse and my optician saw I needed to have 35 prisms. No glasses could be made up with that amount of prisms but I did get some that helped a little. I could only see up to my elbow and that was all fuzzy. This meant no T.V and I was not ability to read either.

As the second lot of radiology hadn’t done enough, I was to have a P.E.T scan. I was to have chemotherapy but they found I could only tolerate one dose of it. The oncologist told me it was making me too ill. My medical notes say that there was “no other viable options for Gemma”. I asked if this was cancer and he said “Yes”.

It was about this time and before I had chemotherapy that my sister-in-law asked me if I wanted to see a homeopath. Her daughter had eczema and it had been completely cleared. I’d never heard of homeopathy but as things were getting so bad, I gave it a go.

At my first appointment, Janice Butcher a homeopath, (now, sadly passed away) came to my parent’s house where I was visiting at the time. It was a huge effort for me to get dressed and come down stairs to meet her.

After the consultation she made up my remedies on a Mr McGurks remedy maker. It seemed to be taking her a long time and I was tired now. I asked her to hurry up. So she said to put my finger in the pot in the machine where she was making the remedies. The remedy was Chelidonium 6x.

After three minutes I felt the need to go to the toilet. As I mentioned, I hadn’t been for months. Now, as homeopaths we especially all know just how important the bowels are. It wasn’t diarrhoea, just a lot of it. I thought this event was a complete coincidence. I thought maybe homeopathy was good for constipation but I had cancer. I would need more proof than this.

Janice gave me a number of homeopathic remedies to take every day and also  herbs, Australian Bush Essences, sarcodes and a combination remedy from New Vistas. As she put it, she was a belt and braces prescriber when needed and felt giving one remedy and waiting and seeing if it worked was not appropriate in my case. I’d have died by then I think, if I’d waited to see what remedy worked.

She told me the potential perils of chemotherapy but I didn’t listen to her and decided to go ahead with it. I had remedies to take along with that too to help with the side effects. I was put on a strict diet of no dairy, no sugar, no meat, no additives, no caffeinated tea or coffee, no alcohol and the worst of all for me, no chocolate. I was to eat organic fruit and vegetables of all the colours of the rainbow she said.

I took many different remedies at the same time. I was on Chelidonium 3x, Berbereris vul 3c and Ceanothis americanus 6x, which I had been taking 3 times a day. It was aimed to detox and support my liver, kidney and spleen whilst I was taking the main homeopathic remedies. I use it in my clinic now for my patients who need detoxing. For example, I use it along with the other homeopathy remedies for patients who have eczema..

I was often given Pulsatilla. I wanted the support of family and friends to be there for me.  Janice could never work out whether my constitutional remedy was Silica or Calc carb. She asked me if I was irritated by drafts or not. I was perplexed and a little angry. I had cancer and she was asking if I liked drafts?  I said “Of course I don’t, who does?

She gave a book with information about Silica. I read the symptoms and said “NO” to all of them, that’s not me. She said “That’s a very silica NO”. She gave the remedy anyway. The morning after my first dose I saw red dots all over my abdomen. I was at my sister in laws house and went to find her to show her. They’d moved to my stomach.

The remedy that Janice said saved my live was Causticum. Not surprising with my semi paralyzed arms, inability to have a stool and urinate and my droopy eyelids which wouldn’t open unless I lifted them up with my finger. It’s not my constitutional remedy either but just what was needed then.

I continued my homeopathy treatment and took myself slowly off the doctor’s drugs that they’d told me to continue to take. What was the point Janice said. You’ve been told you only have months to live and their medicine hasn’t worked for you and they have so many side effects.

After a year at my parents and with regular homeopathy, I found my eyelids would open up voluntarily and my sight had improved. I had much more energy, my sleep patterns returned to normal and my weight gradually reduced.

I was able to return to my rented house in London. After another year I started to train to be a homeopath at The Practical College of Homeopathy and qualified as a registered homeopath in 2001.

Since then, I have fulfilled some of my wishes on my bucket list. These were to visit my two sisters who lived abroad at that time, swim with dolphins, see Petra in Jordon, see tropical fish in the Red Sea, meet my life partner, visit the Phiph Phiph islands in Thailand, which, to me seems like paradise and of course to change my job.

At the time I wrote this wish list, I had no idea my new job would be as a homeopath. I’d also always wanted write a book. I had no idea it would be about my recovery from cancer (My Recovery from Brain Cancer).

There are many people, your family and friends that have an illness and are struggling with it and have been told by their doctor that there is nothing else they can do for them. Perhaps the book will motivate them.

Of course, they are likely to believe what the doctors tell them but we know that there are other options to health and homeopathy is one of them. I know you know homeopathy works but I also know it can difficult to persuade family and friends and potential patients that it works.

So here is another story to show them that it really does work and gives them more of an informed choice and to discover other options, alternatives and complementary ways to their health.

Wishing you all good health and happiness

About the author

Gemma Hoefkens

Gemma HoefkensI was born in the West Midlands, Uk in 1969. In 1990 she obtained a BA Hon’s degree in Social Science. In 1996 she became ill. She was eventually treated for brain tumor by conventional means and then told there was no hope for her. She found a holistic healer who treated her with homeopathy, nutrition and other natural therapies and she survived. She subsequently graduated from a school of homeopathy and qualified as a registered homeopath in 2001.
Her book is: "My Recovery from Brain Cancer" https://www.lulu.com/search?gclid=CjwKCAjwo7iiBhAEEiwAsIxQEXnsxNcUm_RitJ7QGSkaczDctcB88rtQ2Sgy1OC_MsO3rAZI1SEaExoCoAAQAvD_BwE&page=1&q=gemma+hoefkens&pageSize=10&adult_audience_rating=00

Website : http://www.homoeopathysuttoncoldfield.co.uk/gemma.html


  • What an inspiring story. More than ever, right now, we need to be able to show people there are other healing ways. Thanks Gemma.

  • It is very informative and useful for all people. Yes, Homeopathy can do miracle. My family is immensely benefitted from Homeopathy treatment which is beyond imagination.


  • I am about to receive a diagnosis on weds – 49 and normally fit and healthy till 1 month ago a tumour discovered. I’d love to be able
    team my treatment with homeopathic therapies. How could
    I go about this when they suggest chemo and radiotherapy

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