Yazmin Wilkinson: A girl with a happy heart

A top model in her school

By Vicky Vitug

Five-year-old Yazmin Wilkinson, a beautiful Filipino-Belgian girl was named a top model at Belgium Kids Academy. At age 1, she was learning alphabet and numbers from her Filipino mother Diana. The girl who speaks three languages —  Dutch, English and Filipino —  is now learning to speak French, too.  

Yazmin hasn’t always been this lively and confident girl. About three years ago, she looked very different. She was pale, thin and had no hair. Something happened sometime in 2019 after the family returned home to Antwerp after a vacation in the Philippines. 

Parents Carl Wilkinson and Diana Mendoza-Wilkinson noticed that Yazmin looked sickly and was always sleeping.  A doctor prescribed antibiotics, but they did not bring the fever under control. The doctor ordered blood tests for Yazmin.  After she took the test, the parents received a call from the lab telling them to go immediately to the hospital because her hemoglobin value was dangerously low and her blood was “too watery.”  It was, they were told, an indication of “either a viral infection or cancer.”  

Further tests revealed Yazmin may be suffering from Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia. ALL is a type of cancer common in children where thebone marrow makes too many white blood cells preventing the growth of healthy cells, which can lead to infection, anemia, and bleeding, according to Medicineplus.gov.

A pleasant toddler even through chemotherapy

She was undergoing chemo treatments up until her second birthday. 

“It was heartbreaking to witness our baby undergo blood transfusions, chemo treatment, but our family needed to remain steadfast,” said Diana, a full-time mom.

This intensive regimen went on for six months, followed by one-and-a-half years of non-intensive monthly treatments.

Despite the exhausting hospital visits, Yazmin remained a pleasant, happy toddler.  She hardly cried and was always smiling at activities and things that gave her joy and people she liked. She recalled a time, while undergoing chemotherapy, Yazmin’s face lit up when her music therapist passed by.  

“The mere presence of her music therapist made her grin with joy,” she said. “When others would have cried in pain, she automatically opted to smile at the sight of her music therapist.  She is gifted with a happy heart.” 

The Wilkinsons celebrate Yazmin’s 5th birthday: Parents Carl and Diana and brother Matheo.
Yazmin enjoys outdoor activities such as going for a bike ride and catching her pet chickens.  

Yazmin had prayer warriors in Diana’s relatives from New York, New Jersey and Philippines who prayed with the close-knit Wilkinsons every time the girl would undergo delicate procedures. Thanks also go to her in-laws who were always ready to help.  

“The late father of my husband was the one who always gave us a ride to the hospital so that Carl won’t miss work.  Yazmin cannot use public transportation. Because of her situation, she cannot be exposed to too much bacteria,” said Diana.

And, how their prayers were answered:  At 3 1/2 years old, Yazmin was declared in full remission.  After few months, while still in recovery, she joined a children’s  choir which performed Belgian and English songs in front of a large audience.  Today, this fun-loving girl has made many friends in school, including kids from higher grades who adored her.  Her singing, dancing, playing, her laughter and her smiles continue to fill their home with joy. 

The family – father Carl, mother Diana, and elder brother Matheo — is beyond grateful for the return of Yazmin’s good health.  

“With God’s blessings and guidance Yazmin will have a chance for a longer life, brighter tomorrows…and more awards,” said Diana with laughter.

(C) The FilAm2022

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