Hidden in Plain Sight
Complaining of nothing more than a 'tummy ache' Williams' dad stopped at the local hospital for a quick check-up on the way to school.
Totally unexpectedly, tests discovered a massive tumour on Williams kidney and a further eight tumours in his lungs. He was diagnosed with stage 4/5 Wilms cancer at just 7-years-old.
William spent a year in treatment, underwent multiple operations (including a kidney removal) and protracted chemo & radiation therapy. He finally, beat the odds only to suffer a relapsewith the emergence of 2 new tumors in his lungs and is currently undergoing further treatment.
Every Parents Nightmare
A popular, active and happy-go-lucky kid, family and friends were stunned to receive such devastating news ‘out-of-the blue’ and Doctors believed that despite going undetected the tumours had likely been growing since William was in the womb. His family and the whole community has been deeply impacted from seeing Williams’ sudden physical decline and weight loss while he has been subjected to drugs such as morphine, chemotherapy, radiation treatment and surgery.
Active in sports (soccer, hockey, swimming) William came home one day complaining of a 'tummy ache'. Thinking he had no more than a stomach bug, a few days later his dad decided to take him for a standard check-up at the hospital on the way to school.
Three hours later the family's world 'caved-in' as it was revealed that William had a massive cancerous tumor attached to his kidney. The kidney was not functioning and needed to be removed immediately along with the tumor which was in danger of hemorrhaging at any moment.
The family were immediately sent to the world famous 'Teck Acute Care Centre' at Vancouver Children's Hospital where it was discovered that William had an additional eight tumors on his lungs.
He was diagnosed with Stage 4/5 'WIlms cancer' and an emergency operation was scheduled to remove the main tumor, his kidney and to implement a treatment plan to tackle the additional eight tumors in his lungs.
Unfortunately, once the surgical team began the operation to remove the main tumor and kidney they found that due to the size and longevity of the tumor, it had ‘fused itself’ to a number of other internal organs within the internal body cavity (including his pancreas, spleen diaphram, stomach, upper colon, etc). Unable to remove the tumor or the kidney safely, they elected to abandon the surgery and conduct a biopsy instead.
Intense chemotherapy was administered over a protracted period in an attempt to 'shrink the tumor away from the other organs' but the tumor and kidney could still not be removed and additional rounds of chemotherapy were ordered.
Thankfully, and following a number of unsuccessful attempts over many weeks, Williams' tumour and kidney were finally removed in what was considered a 'life threatening operation'.
Without the option of further surgery, the doctors were greatly relived and ‘pivoted’ to tackle the remaining eight tumours in his lungs.
After more rounds of chemotherapy and radiation treatment, four of the eight tumours were reduced, while the other four tumours remained stubbornly in place but greatly diminished.
Doctors decided to forego more treatment in favour of a period of convalescence, evaluation and analysis and Williams returned to being more like a typical kid although the risks of another break-out of the cancer remained 30-35% within 3 years. However, the family was happy taking the 65-70% odds that he would be okay.
William continued to attend bi-monthly testing and evaluations in Vancouver (400km from home) in order to monitor his condition that fortunately remained 'clear' for a full year.
However sadly, and somewhat ironically, he was diagnosed as being in relapse on the one year anniversary of the end of his prior treatment.
Two tumors had appeared on Williams' lungs in the area previously treated (approx 1 cm and 7mm respectively.).
William has been scheduled to undergo surgery to remove the smaller tumor and conduct a biopsy to provide insight into how aggressive the cancer is and the extent of his fight ahead. Results should reveal how treatable his condition is.
The family has been advised that Chemotherapy will will be far more intense than previously. As the regime will considerably deplete his bone marrow William will undergo "Stem Cell infusion" to boost his immune system. However, if the biopsy identifies a different type of cancer the current plan will likely change.
As for William himself, he is in good spirits, for the most part, and the family remain hopeful of a positive outcome despite the considerable challenges ahead.
Naturally, they have been forced to 'drop everything' once again in order to be with their son through this latest ordeal and a "fighting fund" has been started to try to support all efforts: both medical and domestic. This includes the possibility of using breakthrough technology now available in the United States which is expensive and right now is financially beyond reach.
Williams’ family remained optimistic and take full advantage of every opportunity to be together and enjoy life, and feel incredibly lucky for this, in spite of all the challenges.
Presenting: abdominal and lung Wilms tumors
Read more about Williams' story from a 'parents perspective':