Irma threatens birthday for 3-year old with leukemia, until nurses step in

Story highlights

  • Willow turned 3 on Sunday, while Irma made landfall in Florida
  • Willow was diagnosed with leukemia on Friday

St. Petersburg, Florida (CNN)When Hurricane Irma threatened to ruin Willow Stine's third birthday party, hospital staff in St. Petersburg, Florida, came to the rescue.

Willow was diagnosed with leukemia on Friday, just two days before the storm hit, and is now with her mother at Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital here preparing for chemotherapy.
Her mother had nothing for her birthday on Sunday: no presents, no cake, no decorations.
    She was also missing another key ingredient for a birthday party: friends and family. It was unsafe for them to make the journey from their home in Wesley Chapel, more than 40 miles north of the hospital.
    "I was like, I don't know how much more I can take," said Willow's mother, Jennifer Stine. "My baby's turning 3 and has cancer and on top of that my 4-year old daughter and husband are an hour and a half away in a hurricane. I'm just trying to process all this."
    That's when hospital staff stepped in.
    Raiding a stash of brand new toys at the hospital, nurses and specialists working Willow wrapped up gifts, including a doll, a game, books, Play-Doh and a bubble machine.
    "I always wanted this!" Willow repeatedly exclaimed in a video after opening each gift.
    When they presented Willow with a cake, she immediately took her hand that wasn't hindered by an IV line and scooped up some icing.
    Her mother is seen on the video quietly crying as the staff sang "Happy Birthday" to her daughter. "The nurses were amazing. They're so wonderful," Stine said. "She got to be a toddler again."
    Willow's diagnosis actually came a few days early because of Hurricane Irma.
    On Thursday afternoon, Stine received a call from the pediatrician's office asking her to re-schedule Willow's 3-year old check up, which was supposed to be Monday. They asked her to come in later in the week after the storm had passed.
    Stine hesitated. Willow hadn't seemed quite like herself lately, and she was very pale. She insisted on bringing Willow in the next day.