A very tired Wills Hodgkinson cuddles against his dad Tim, during a surprise trip home in April 2018. The family is back at B.C. Children’s Hospital after Wills’ cancer resurfaced. (Steve Kidd - Western News Staff)

A very tired Wills Hodgkinson cuddles against his dad Tim, during a surprise trip home in April 2018. The family is back at B.C. Children’s Hospital after Wills’ cancer resurfaced. (Steve Kidd - Western News Staff)

Nine-year-old Penticton boy faces return of lung tumours

After a year free of cancer, Wills is back at B.C. Children’s Hospital

It’s some of the worst news a family could get at Christmas.

Just one year after doctors said Wills Hodgkinson didn’t need any more treatment, two new tumours were discovered on the nine-year-old’s lungs.

“We don’t know what his prospects are. It’s grim,” said his dad, Tim Hodgkinson.

Two-year-old Scarlet cuddles with her big brother Wills during his 2018 ordeal. )Photo courtesy Tim Hodgkinson)

In Feb. 2018, Wills was diagnosed with a Wilm’s tumour, a rare kidney cancer that primarily affects children. The usual treatment is to remove the tumour and the affected kidney, but in Wills’ case the tumour had grown so large it had fused to his pancreas, spleen and colon.

That meant weeks of heavy chemo in an attempt to shrink the tumour enough it could be removed safely. The second blow fell when ongoing testing discovered eight more tumours on Wills’ lungs.

A healthy, active kid prior to the diagnosis, Wills fought through, and survived, nearly a year of chemotherapy, surgery and illness as he beat back the cancer. By the end of 2018, Wills was visiting the Western News office declaring “I’m done with cancer,” and chatting about plans to play soccer with first the Pinnacles, then the Whitecaps and finally Chelsea F.C. in London, England.

Read more: A South Okanagan family’s year-long journey

Of course, Wills wasn’t done, even then. But it looked good. The kidney tumour was removed, and months of treatment had shrunk the lung tumours — four were gone and the remaining ones were small and stabilized.

Now, the lung tumours are back. Tim said his son was finally getting back to a regular routine and both the physical and emotional scars were healing.

“He was putting both of those in the past, right?” said Tim. “He was clear for a year, absolutely clear and we were trying to get him back into the day to day routine; catching up with schoolwork, playing football (soccer).”

Read more: Cancer survivor stars in Whitecaps/B.C. Children’s Hospital promo

Throughout his 2018 battle, Wills showed a strong survival drive, which Tim is hoping will help him again.

“Survival drive… I’m not trying to delude myself but truly he does, you know, and so we’re banking on that being one of the key factors,” said Tim.

If it’s possible, the second time around is expected to be more difficult and dangerous. The new tumours are in the same area as the earlier ones, which Tim said is causing concern for Wills’ treatment team.

The first surgery is planned for Dec. 20, to remove the smaller of two tumours and conduct a biopsy to help determine how aggressive the cancer is. The results, ironically, are expected on Dec. 23 or Christmas Eve itself. A new round of intense chemotherapy starts Dec. 30.

All through the crisis, Wills had his family by his side: dad Tim, mom Neeley Brimer and his young sister, Scarlett. Now they are back at B.C. Children’s Hospital and told to plan for a long stay at Ronald McDonald House.

Tim said the family is grateful for the community support during the 2018 ordeal and they hope people can help again as they prepare for another long battle.

Read more: Community shows support for seven-year-old battling cancer

“We have been forced to drop everything once again in order to be with our son through this latest ordeal,” wrote Tim on a GoFundMe page, adding they would be grateful for any help, large or small, on both domestic and medical fronts.

“This includes the possibility of using breakthrough technology now available in the United States which is expensive and right now is beyond our reach,” wrote Tim.

Tim has also set up a foundation to encourage support from organizations and corporate interests not only for Wills but others like him at www.wilmsfoundation.com.

To contribute, search GoFundMe for “9 yr Old Wills’ Fights Cancer.”


Steve Kidd
Senior reporter, Penticton Western News
Email me or message me on Facebook
Follow us on Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Nuns of Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity, carry some of her relics during a vigil of prayer in preparation for the canonization of Mother Teresa in the St. John in Latheran Basilica at the Vatican, Friday, Sept. 2, 2016. In which city did she do much of her charitable work? (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
QUIZ: How much do you know about these motherhood issues?

In honour of Mother’s Day, take this 10-question quiz

Steven Brown is running for Penticton city council in the June by-election. (Contributed)
Penticton race director throws hat into city council ring

Steven Brown will run with a focus on small business

Penticton Vees celebrate a goal in their second win to start their season on Saturday night at the SOEC. (Brennan Phillips - Western News)
Penticton Vees head into final weekend tied for first in league

The Vees have two games to take the top spot

Kelsey Johnson, the City of Penticton’s manager for parks and recreation, was recognized by the Canadian Parks and Recreation Association as an emerging leader for her work. (Submitted)
National recognition for Penticton’s head of parks & rec

Kelsey Johnson was deemed an emerging leader by the Canadian Parks and Recreation Association

Coronavirus 3D illustration. (CDC photo)
Two Summerland businesses closed due to COVID-19

The businesses are listed on the Interior Health website

(The Canadian Press)
Trudeau won’t say whether Canada supports patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines

‘Canada is at the table to help find a solution’

Edmonton Oilers’ Connor McDavid (97) celebrates his 100th point this season with Leon Draisaitl (29) against the Vancouver Canucks during second period NHL action in Edmonton on Saturday, May 8, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Edmonton superstar McDavid hits 100-point mark as Oilers edge Canucks 4-3

NHL scoring leader needs just 53 games to reach century mark

City of Vernon Coun. Dalvir Nahal proposed two blocks of Main Street be closed to bolster recovery for downtown businesses amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Caitlin Clow - Vernon Morning Star)
Vernon’s ‘support local’ Main Street closure would cost city $24K, staff say

Bylaw costs, loss of parking revenue and equipment logistics behind price tag

Five properties have been added to the Lake Country fire protection zone, after council moved to expand the local service area Tuesday, May 4, 2021. (Google Maps)
Lake Country expands fire protection zone, covering 5 exposed properties

The properties petitioned to join the local service area after being left out ‘for reasons unknown’

VSAR’s Air Rescue One unit assisted in a rescue in West Kelowna May 3, 2021. (VSAR screenshot)
VIDEO: VSAR’s Air Rescue One team assists in West Kelowna Rescue

The Vernon Search and Rescue helicopter team pulled off a successful rescue Monday

Peachland resident and cleanup volunteer Lloyd Stinson Sotas holds up a discarded TV riddled with bullet holes. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
PHOTOS: Peachland residents clean up community watershed

More than 70 people gave back to Mother Earth by assisting with the cleanup

Officials are surveying the streets of Vernon to get a better sense of the issue of homelessness in the city, as part of the province’s point-in-time homeless count for 2021. (Brendan Shykora - Morning Star)
Province conducts homeless count in Vernon

It’s the first time Vernon has been included in the provincial homeless count

A map showing where the most number of cases were recorded from April 23 to 29. This map, revealing a breakdown of infections by neighborhood, was pulled from a data package leaked to the Vancouver Sun last week (and independently verified).
36 Abbotsford schools flagged for COVID-19 exposures in the last 2 weeks, shattering record

Clearbrook Elementary recorded an ‘exposure’ on all 11 school days

Most Read