Ordeal intensifying for seven-year-old battling cancer

Wills Hodgkinson and family are on a long journey

Two-year-old Scarlet cuddles with her big brother Wills. Photo courtesy Tim Hodgkinson

Tim Hodgkinson has been posting a lot of his pictures of his son Wills smiling, even though the seven-year-old is battling cancer.

“You want to post pictures of people looking happy,” said Tim, explaining that it is also important to keep Wills’ spirits up as the youngster makes his journey.

“The truth is there is a lot going on,” Tim said, explaining that Wills is now into his second round of chemotherapy, with stronger drugs.

Knowing that Wills would lose his hair, they gave him a crew cut, like some of the soccer players he idolizes, to lessen the shock.

“It’s always traumatic,” said Tim, adding that Wills is suffering from the other side effects of the chemo: he tires quickly and is experiencing nausea and nosebleeds.

“He has less up moments,” said Tim.

There’s a roadmap for the treatment, and the family — Wills’ mother Neely Brimer and his two-year-old sister Scarlett are also by his side — just have to follow it.

Cascades Casino is reaching out to the community to help support Wills and his family.

Cascades is hosting a by-donation pancake breakfast on April 10 in support of the family while Wills undergoes treatment in the Acute Teck Care Centre at B.C. Children’s Hospital in Vancouver.

Cascades Casino is hosting a pancake breakfast on April 10 in support of Wills Hodgkinson.

“We want to make sure that we, as a community, continue the momentum to support Wills’ and his family during this trying time,” said Michael Magnusson, Cascade Casino’s general manager. “No family should ever have to go through this, so we want to provide Penticton and the Okanagan with another opportunity to show our support and love for this courageous young man while he undergoes treatment.”

Related: Support pouring in for Penticton boy fighting cancer

Wills was diagnosed with a Willms Tumour, a rare form of kidney cancer, earlier this year. Surgery revealed a tumour on his kidney that was too large to be removed and had attached to his spleen, pancreas and colon. Doctors also discovered another eight cancers spots on Wills’ lungs.

Wills has been undergoing weeks of chemo and radiation therapy to shrink the tumour enough so surgeons can remove it and the kidney it is attached to.

Wills is a student at Holy Cross School in Penticton and an active hockey and soccer player. His classmates will be helping out at the breakfast, bussing tables and helping to support the event.

All of the proceeds raised at the pancake breakfast will go directly to Wills’ parents, Tim Hodgkinson and Neeley Brimer, so they can focus on Wills and his two-year-old sister Scarlett, rather than bills and travel expenses.

Related: Community shows support for seven-year-old battling cancer

The pancake breakfast will run from 9 to 10:30 a.m. at Cascades Casino Penticton on April 10, along with strawberries, blueberries, syrup and whipped cream as toppings. Juice or hot chocolate will be available for the kids and coffee and tea for the adults. For those who cannot attend the breakfast but would like to make a donation, the casino will keep the donation box available throughout the day at the guest services desk.

Tim said the support from the community has been amazing, and it didn’t stop at the fundraiser for Wills in March. People have been contacting the family with words of encouragement and support.

“It’s just incredible,” said Tim. “It’s that word again — it’s humbling.”

Tim said the family is also incredibly grateful for events like the Cascades’ pancake breakfast. The family wishes they could be there to thank people in person, but of course, they need to stay by Wills’ side.

“What lovely community spirit,” Tim said, impressed with the lengths people will go to in order to support Wills and also to raise his spirits.

Related: Mountie visit brings a smile to Penticton kid fighting cancer

There have been visits from the Vancouver Whitecaps, Edmonton Oiler Connor McDavid and the Vancouver Canucks, one of whom took a particular interest in Wills.

Erik Gudbranson, Tim said, returned after the Canucks visit and even kept Wills’ company through one of his chemo sessions, a kind gesture that helped keep Wills spirits up through the ordeal.

“He wasn’t told to come by the team, he’s just a really nice guy,” said Tim.

Another is family friend Jason Wood, a Pentictonite now working on the coast with the Delta Fire Department.

“He has been all over this and very helpful,” said Tim. He took Wills to the fire station and showed him the trucks.”

“There are certain people that go above and beyond, and he’s one of them.”


Steve Kidd
Senior reporter, Penticton Western News
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