Two parents who refused chemotherapy and radiotherapy for their cancer-hit son in favour of cannabis oil believe it will increase his chances of survival.
Tom and Kylie Horne say the treatments would make baby William’s life even more uncomfortable.
The child, from Rhondda, Wales, was found to have a tumour “larger than a tennis ball” on his brain stem after undergoing a CT scan.
WalesOnline report that surgeons were able to remove 85 per cent of the cancerous mass. and recommended further treatment.
Despite doctors recommending to William’s parents that chemotherapy and radiotherapy would be the best option in shrinking the remaining 15 per cent, they rejected their medical advice.
The pair are adamant that the best way of saving their son’s life is cannabis oil , and in particular the THC psychoactive element which Tom claims will “cause the cancer cells to commit suicide”.
“The early prognosis was that he probably has a year to live, based on the current state of the tumour and the cancer,” said Tom, 31.
“If we were to go for chemotherapy or radiation then it would prolong his life for about two, three, maybe four years.
“But the level [of the dose] would be absolutely devastating and children with that lead no quality of life.
“We don’t want to drag him through the mud and make him more ill than he already is. That would be sadistic and cruel.
“Instead, if we can give him something that will help him without causing any adverse side-effects, then that’s what we should do.”
Former recreational cannabis user Tom, who runs a construction firm, said he has been researching the medicinal benefits of the drug for the past decade, long before William become ill.
He said any significant research into into it is continually being “quashed” by big pharmaceutical companies.
“I feel like everything I have ever researched, looked at or learnt has led me to this moment,” added Tom, a dad-of-five.
“Maybe I will be a catalyst to change things.”
William was described as a “bouncy, happy” baby by his doting family, but all that changed after he turned 12 months old.
Tom said: “He had almost cold-like symptoms at first, then a bit of an upset stomach. Just normal illnesses.”
“Then after five or six trips to the GP William started developing a crooked neck. The doctor told Kylie that he had just been sleeping funny and sent him home.
“But looking at the bigger picture, we knew something was really wrong here.”
Kylie ended up calling 999 when William continued to deteriorate and he was taken to the Royal Glamorgan Hospital.
Within hours a CT scan was carried out which revealed a fast-growing cancerous brain tumour known as anaplasticÂ ependymoma.
The disease is currently classed as stage three which means it is contained to his brain and spine.
“The gravity of the situation was monumental,” said Tom, recalling the moment he was told his son’s devastating diagnosis.
“I’d never felt anything like it. It was like the news blew all emotion out of me. I felt like a blank sheet of paper.”
At the University Hospital of Wales a shunt was put into William’s brain to drain the excess fluid. He then went under the knife to have as much of the tumour taken out as possible.
The procedure has left William unable to swallow, move his left side or open his eyes properly.
“His eyes kind of flick to the side, but when I talk to him he clearly knows I’m there,” Tom added.
Tom said the doctors looked “shocked” when they expressed their desire not to give William the chemotherapy or radiotherapy and to go down the cannabis route instead.
“A lot of people in our situation would panic [and go with the doctors’ advice] but I was so strong in my beliefs that I knew cannabis was going to work,” he said.
“I couldn’t believe we were the first people to have this conversation with them.”
Tom, whose other children Alfie, 12; Layla, eight; Simon, six; and Jess, three, are all with other family members or neighbours as they try and focus on William, said he has been “inundated” with requests from people to give him cannabis oil.
“There has been a lot of research now that points out that THC will cause apoptosis (cell death) whereas cancer does the opposite.
“So in my opinion, rather than letting my son die, this is the only viable option for us. We need public support to help us get authorisation to use it.”
There are more than 100 different chemical compounds in the cannabis plant, known as cannabinoids, which means its medical benefits are potentially wide-ranging.
One compound, known as cannabidiol or CBD, can be bought legally and is becoming a popular way of treating symptoms relating to diseases such as Parkinson’s, MS, anxiety and depression.
But these commercially-available products contain little to no tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the principal psychoactive constituent of cannabis which Tom and Kylie believe will help William.
The Home Office said it would only issue licences for the cultivation of plants from approved seed types with a THC content not exceeding 0.2%.
Professor Michael Barnes, a founder of the Medical Cannabis Clinicians Society and neurologist, stressed that while there are medical benefits to using cannabis oil, it does not cure diseases.
He said: “It is very useful as a treatment for conditions such as anxiety, pain and epilepsy in its own right and helpful as well in combination with the THC part of the plant for many other conditions including bowel problems (such as Crohn’s disease), appetite stimulation and fibromyalgia.
“It is very safe and very effective for the conditions above and others. It is in many ways preferable to use a simple and safe medicine rather than a pharmaceutical product with many side effects. However, it always wise to consult with a doctor before using to help with dose, etc.
“Mainly it is a medicine that helps symptoms and doesn’t cure diseases. So that is important to emphasise.”
In response to William’s case, a spokesperson from Cardiff and Vale University Health Board said: “We are unable to comment on individual cases. We always act in the best interests of our patients and their families.
“We would urge Mr Horne to get in touch with our Concerns team to discuss this further.”