"She plays at giving medicine to her dolls" - Family's shock as toddler is diagnosed with stage four cancer

Willow Dodd is just 22 months old but she’s already proving she’s a real fighter.

By Faye Dixon
Thursday, 25th July 2019, 3:58 pm

Willow was diagnosed with stage four rhabdomyosarcoma in May, and within days she had to undergo an operation and started chemotherapy.

She has radiotherapy ahead of her but that hasn’t stopped her from enjoying her life. Little Willow has lost her hair and is in and out of hospital but she is keeping strong.

At home, she gets her medicines and then gives them to her dolls and makes it part of her routine and playtime.

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Willow Dodd with her mum Karla, dad Graeme. and brothers Joey, Louie and Ollie. Picture by Jane Coltman

Her dad, Graeme Dodd, and mum Karla Heathcote are so proud of their little fighter.

Graeme said: “Obviously it’s hard as a parent and it’s more the physical things that we’ve seen change.

“She used to be little and chubby and now she’s really thin but these past couple of weeks, I’ve seen the bubbly and cheeky side to her.

“It still comes out of her on the good weeks.

Willow Dodd with her mum Karla and dad Graeme. Picture by Jane Coltman

“She’s absolutely amazing and so strong.”

Graeme used to work as head chef at The Tankerville Arms but has given up work to give his full attention to Willow and her three brothers, Ollie, 10, Joey, seven, and Louie, five.

He said: “I was head chef at the time but, obviously, with having three boys and Willow’s constantly going to be in and out of hospital, I need to be here for them as well.

“Obviously, the radiotherapy we’ve been told will affect her because she’s so little.

Willow Dodd. Picture by Jane Coltman

“They don’t like to do it under three but she’s got no choice.”

He added: “It was a big shock really, and to find out it was stage four and it had spread to her stomach area, it was quite hard.

“The first couple of months were hard. She had a few infections and had to stay in hospital but for the last few weeks she has been really good.”

Will Dodd, Willow’s uncle, set up a Go Fund Me page to help the family with the costs of caring for Willow and the boys during the holidays and anything she needs as she gets older.

Willow Dodd. Picture by Jane Coltman

Will said: “We’re really appreciative of all the support and we’re amazed and so thankful for all of the community coming together.”

Within nine days, the page raised over £4,000 and with the support from the hospital, Willow and her family are staying strong.

Will added: “She will have 18 months of chemo and radiotherapy, which starts soon. It was quite a lot to take in and it is going to be tough.”

The community of Alnwick have rallied in support of the family; search for ‘Will’s campaign for Willow’ on the Go Fund Me website https://www.gofundme.com

In the post, Will says: ‘Do you want to join me in raising a small amount of money to help my brother and his family cover any costs during their daughter’s illness?

‘Before this happened, my brother had a good job and supported his family, but now has no choice but to give up work.

Willow Dodd and brother Joey Picture by Jane Coltman

‘This money will help them to get through this difficult time and concentrate on Willow and the boys.’