Little girl is inspiration to unite Our Town

Published 06/18 2013 06:15PM

Updated 06/18 2013 06:34PM

HOOPESTON -- A positive attitude helped this mini-celebrity in Our Town, survive cancer. Willamina Clayton is 5-years old. She was diagnosed with liver cancer when she was just 9-months old. But, that struggle helped turn her into the person she is today. WCIA-3's Erica Quednau introduces her to us.

She's a people-person. I got to witness that as soon as I got out of the car. She took my hand and showed me her baby chickens. She developed her outgoing personality after spending nearly two years in the hospital.

"We'd taken her to a routine check-up and within a few hours, we had a cancer diagnosis. That started a whirlwind of treatments and she went through chemotherapy and we'd hoped that we'd be able to shrink her tumor and remove it, but it didn't quite happen that way."

Willamina ended up getting a liver transplant. But even that didn't work.

"We thought we were in the clear and then the cancer relapsed in her lungs. Several times. I think three times we went through relapse."

That meant spending a big chunk of her life in the hospital.

"Do you remember being sick at all?"


"What do you remember?"

"I remember doing everything I really like to do."

"That was our family time. My husband would bring his guitar in. We would read books. That was where she grew up. I think that's where she sort of learned o love people too. Always having people in her room."

The 5-year old and her family were also surrounded by people in their community.

"I made friends; Keenan and Lily and Mimi and Olive and Eloise and all kinds of friends."

"Hoopeston came together immediately. She was one everyone's minds. Everyone was praying for her and I think, without a doubt, their support helped her get to where she is today."

That means playing with her sisters and doing all her favorite things.

"I pet my chickens and go on the teeter-totter and go on the swings and do gymnastic things."

"I think with Willamina, there's just something about her people are drawn to."

Willamina does still have the chance of relapse, but she's been cancer-free now for almost four years.

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