A Ponoka teen and her family are banding together for a difficult battle after the young girl was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer late last year.
Hope Trimble-Willis, 17, went to the Ponoka Hospital and Care Centre on Nov. 12, thinking she contracted a parasite from milking cows.
While it was determined she did not have the parasite, doctors were concerned about her kidneys and she was moved to the Red Deer Regional Hospital for a CT scan.
Her mother, Kristy Willis, was told she had bacteria in her stomach from either whooping cough or pneumonia and she was moved back to Ponoka overnight.
A week passed and Trimble-Willis was feeling no better; trying another route, she went to see the family doctor.
“Her doctor asked her why she was walking around. He said ’you have a collapsed lung’,” said Willis.
She was admitted to the Wetaskiwin Hospital and Care Centre. “They did physiotherapy on her lung,” said Willis.
After five days, there were no changes and Trimble-Willis was sent to a bronchoscopy at the University of Alberta Hospital.
“I got a call stating Hope had a mass in her lung cutting off her upper left lobe,” said Willis.
On Dec. 8 a specialist told the family Trimble-Willis had a carconoid lung tumor. Surgery was booked for February.
“She went in at 9 a.m. and at 11:39 a.m. (we) got a phone call from the surgeon saying the cancer had moved from the tumor to her lymph nodes. The only thing to try and stop the spread of it was to remove the left lung,” said Willis.
Three to four weeks later the family was informed the tumor had gone from typical to atypical. “What was in her lymph nodes was highly aggressive,” said Willis.
“They can’t tell us what form of cancer it is,” she added.
Trimble-Willis began chemotherapy on March 23 and on March 29 she became very ill. She was taken to the Cross Cancer Institute in Edmonton. Along with the cancer, Trimble-Willis has a rare infectious disease called cryptosporidium.
“The chemotherapy and the cryptosporidium could be deadly for her, together,” said Willis.
Because Trimble-Willis is a minor she must have somebody within 10 to 15 minutes from the Institute each time she is admitted. However, because she is older than 16 her family is not able to stay at the Ronald McDonald House.
“Financially it’s kicked out butts,” said Willis.
Willis’s aunt, Lorraine Gustafson, has planned a dinner benefit, which takes place May 29 at the Ponoka Golf Course to raise some funds for the family.
Those who want to help can also donate through gofundme.com. Willis says email money transfers can be made through firstname.lastname@example.org. Donations can also be made at any Alberta Treasury Branch into the account #886-00423030200.
For more information on the benefit, Gustafson can be contacted on Facebook at Helping Hope or via the gmail account.
“(She’s the) best teenage you could ever imagine. She’s one of those kids you wish every parent could have as a teenager,” said Willis.
The mother-daughter duo is as much best friends as they are parent and child. Trimble-Willis is an avid fan of fishing, quading, snowboarding and hunting.
“She has her good days and she has her bad days,” said Willis. “She hasn’t let it define her as a person.”
Clarification from April 22 edition:
Following the publication of the article on Hope Trimble-Willis’ fight against cancer on page 12 of the April 15 edition of the Ponoka News, a community member contacted the Ronald McDonald House Charities wanting to know why the family was ineligible to stay in the Edmonton house as Kristy Willis, Hope’s mother, was originally informed by the Stollery Children’s Hospital. As a result of this initiative, it was understood that this is not the case and should Trimble-Willis be re-admitted to the hospital, the family will be placed on a waiting list for the house, because as of Thursday, April 16 it was at its maximum number of occupants.