Willow Rae Porter may not look perfect to the outside world, but to her mother, she is. She’s also the miracle that her mom, Katie Hanson, said saved her life after a pregnancy scan detected cervical cancer in her body.
Currently 22 months old, Willow was born with a very rare condition — one in a million — that will likely kill her in the next year. She has what’s called inclusive cell (i-cell) disease. The diseases causes a build up within her cells, accumulating in areas of soft tissue, joints, cartilage, and bone structure. It affects everything from breathing to digestion to bone structure.
It’s difficult imagining Willow’s life will be cut so short, but Hanson is making every moment count with her little girl despite the dark prognosis.
After being urged to abort her baby when cancer was discovered, Hanson chose to continue her pregnancy full-term, having the cancerous portion of her cervix removed after Willow’s birth.
Today, Willow is a smiley little girl with little mobility but has overcome the odds in some ways. She wasn’t expected to be verbal but four months learned to say “momma” and “yeah.”
‘Now we’re trying to make as many memories with her as we possibly can, as the memories someday will be all we will have left,” said Hanson. “My main focus is taking things one day at a time and I’m thankful for each and every second we get with her, we’re living a life without regrets and not taking things for granted.”
Because i-cell is so rare, there’s very little funding for research — only small amounts donated by other families affected by the condition. Despite her struggles, Hanson said Willow is a “social butterfly” and loves people-watching and being with others.
Hanson cares for Willow full-time and appears to have the maturity and wisdom of someone much older than her 23 years. Willow is fortunate to have a mom who chose to give her life a chance and believes every second of that life is worth fighting for.