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

Toronto’s Mass Vaccination Clinic is shown on Sunday January 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Interior Health reports 2 more deaths, 83 new COVID-19 cases

Health authority also identifies new virus cluster in Fernie

Oliver Town Hall (Town of Oliver Facebook).
Call for local artists to design centennial logo for Oliver

The Town of Oliver will be celebrating 100 years in 2021

Vaseux Lake in winter. (Facebook)
Dogs rescued after falling through ice on Vaseux Lake

Good Samaritans saved the trapped dogs

“My grandma always just said…making people smile is the most important thing,” says Nicholas Kruger. (Chehala Leonard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter)
Entrepreneur Nicholas Kruger nominated as Okanagan community changemaker

With humour and knowledge, Nicholas Kruger says it’s important to give back

Geoff Orr began building his dream home in the hills above Penticton over 14 years ago. The architect used recycled lumber from the old Super-Vale grocery store. (Floating Orb Productions / YouTube)
WATCH: Penticton man shows off dream home made from recycled lumber

A lot of the lumber used was taken from the demolished Super-Valu grocery store

British Columbia Health Minister Adrian Dix looks on as Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry addresses the media during a news conference at the BC Centre of Disease Control in Vancouver B.C. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
B.C. announces 485 new COVID-19 cases, fewest deaths in months

‘The actions we take may seem small, but will have a big impact to stop the virus,” urges Dr. Henry

Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News
Search called off for small plane that went down in rough water south of Victoria

Plane bound for Port Angeles from Alaska believed to have one occupant, an Alaskan pilot

Crown prosecutors have stayed attempted murder charges against Kelowna’s Jesse Pez. (Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
Man accused in Kelowna Halloween stabbing has attempted murder charge stayed

The Crown only proceeds with charges when evidence provides ‘a substantial likelihood of conviction’

RCMP released this photo on Jan. 27, 2021 of Terrance Jones, 40, a Caucasian man with a closely shaved head, brown eyes, dirty blonde or brown hair, and a thin mustache and beard. The inside of his right arm is covered in tattoos, including one of a face. (Kamloops RCMP photo)
RCMP want public’s help to locate Shuswap man wanted on charge of attempted murder

Sicamous man was arrested previously on Jan. 11 for allegedly breaching conditions of release

Royal B.C. Museum conservator Megan Doxsey-Whitfield kneels next to a carved stone pillar believed to have significance as a First Nations cultural marker by local Indigenous people. The pillar was discovered on the beach at Dallas Road last summer. Museum curatorial staff have been working with Songhees and Esquimalt Nation representatives to gain a clearer picture of its use. (Photo courtesy Royal BC Museum)
Stone carving found on Victoria beach confirmed Indigenous ritual pillar

Discussion underway with the Esquimalt and Songhees about suitable final home for the artifact

Former Vancouver Giants forward Evander Kane is seen here in Game 7 of the second round of the 2009 WHL playoffs against the Spokane Chiefs (Sam Chan under Wikipedia Commons licence)
Gambling debts revealed in details of bankruptcy filing by hockey star Evander Kane

Sharks left winger and former Vancouver Giants player owes close to $30 million total

Othman “Adam” Hamdan, pictured in front of Christina Lake’s Welcome Centre, was acquitted of terrorism related charges in 2017. He has been living in Christina Lake since November 2020. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Man acquitted on terrorism charges awaits deportation trial while living in Kootenays

Othman Ayed Hamdan said he wants to lead a normal life while he works on his upcoming book

B.C. Premier John Horgan wears a protective face mask to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 prior to being sworn in by The Honourable Janet Austin, Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia during a virtual swearing in ceremony in Victoria, Thursday, November 26, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Premier Horgan calls jumping COVID vaccine queue ‘un-Canadian’

Horgan says most people in B.C. are doing their best to follow current public health guidelines

Most Read