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‘I survived the last two times’: Brave Penticton boy fights third battle with cancer

Click to play video: 'Penticton boy faces setback in 3 year cancer battle' Penticton boy faces setback in 3 year cancer battle
The community in Penticton is rallying around a local family as their 10-year-old child battles cancer for the third time in three years. Shelby Thom reports on William Hodgkinson’s fight against the relentless disease known as Wilms-- and his parent's reaction to the outpouring of generosity from friends, family and complete strangers. – Mar 4, 2021

A courageous 10-year-old in Penticton, B.C., is fighting a childhood cancer known as Wilms for the third time in three years.

William Hodgkinson spoke to Global News from BC Children’s Hospital where he is undergoing chemotherapy treatment this week.

“I know it’s not bad, I survived the last two times,” he said of the experience.

“The first time I was extremely scared, the second time I was really scared but not as scared as I was the first time, and then right now I’m not scared at all,” he said.

Read more: Kids with Cancer Society: Meet Ben, 5, in treatment for a Wilms’ tumor

A massive tumour on Hodgkinson’s kidney was first discovered after a tummy ache landed him in hospital in 2018.

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“The size of the tumour on his kidney was about the size of his lung — it was absolutely massive,” said his father TJ Hodgkinson.

“You’re actually stunned, you’re so stunned by it you don’t really know how you feel or what to think. It was completely out of the blue,” TJ said.

The cancer likely went undetected for years and had already spread to his lungs.

William in hospital for another round of chemotherapy. Submitted

The family’s world was turned upside down in an instant.

“When something like this happens to you, you have to drop everything and your whole life stops,” the senior Hodgkinson said.

“When William first got sick you think this is one of the things that happen to other families, it doesn’t happen to your family, so it took a long time to transition into that mindset of everything else is put on pause and your focus is completely re-directed and everything changes,” added his mother, Neeley Brimer.

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The then seven-year-old spent a year in treatment and underwent multiple operations, including the removal of a kidney.

William had beat the odds– at least for a while. But he has since relapsed– twice.

Read more: B.C. baby fighting rare cancer dies; fundraising money to go to other infants in need

A routine scan in January found an existing tumour in his lung tissue had quadrupled in size and new lesions emerged.

“It was pretty shocking that it to us that it came back the way that it did,” Brimer said.

Now he’s undergoing two more rounds of chemo followed by a major surgery.

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While William and his parents are at BC Children’s Hospital in Vancouver, their community back home in Penticton is rallying to support them.

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Several local businesses are holding fundraisers to help cover travel, living and medical expenses.

Okanoggin Barbers recently raised $20,000 after a raffle draw.

Father and son are both clients at the barbershop.

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“He’s an astounding, articulate, bright bundle of joy, and to watch a kid, 10-years-old, go through a third battle with cancer sort of made us all want to do something to make it as easy on both him and his parents as we could,” said business owner Peter Beauchamp.

“We were surprised by the number of people from outside the community that contacted us to make a donation — whether that be cash or something for the prize. [We were] not really surprised at the generosity of the businesses in Penticton, we are a community that supports the community.”
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William and his parents are grateful for the outpouring of generosity during a difficult time.

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“We thought this being the third time that people were just going to be exhausted and say ‘we helped you the first and second time and now we’re done.’ But if anything, we’ve had an even stronger community presence and people pulling together,” Neeley said.

“Thank you so much to everybody who’s been effectively on this journey with us, there are so many people who are invested in William and what he’s going through,” William’s dad added.

They say it proves that it truly takes a village to raise a child.

For more information on the cancer William is fighting, visit the Wilms Cancer Foundation. 

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