The Hawkeyes were off last week, but this week they'll be traveling to Illinois to take on Northwestern. Every time there's a University of Iowa game, there's also a new Kid Captain from the University of Iowa Stead Family Children's Hospital! This week's honoree is Hayden Wheatley, a 3-year-old girl from Hamilton, Illinois.

Hayden's parents noticed that something wasn't right with Hayden when she was about one and a half years old. She was having vomiting spells and problems with balance, but after taking her to local doctors, they couldn't find anything wrong. Hayden's parents then took her to the emergency room, where a CT scan revealed fluid on her brain. She was immediately sent to the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital in an ambulance, where doctors discovered a mass on her brain stem in a very dangerous spot. Hayden had to get surgery, but it was a success, with the entire tumor removed. Unfortunately, that wasn't the end of Hayden's struggle. The night after her surgery, her heart rate was very high, and then it just disappeared. Her heart rate continued to drop for the next 12 hours, and then fluid was discovered in her lungs. Their last option was to put Hayden on an EMCO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation) machine, which was incredibly dangerous to do considering she just had a huge brain surgery. Luckily, Hayden pulled through and was able to come off the machine only 36 hours later.

As it turns out, the tumor removed from Hayden's brain was actually a very aggressive type of brain cancer that has a 40% chance of coming back. She has done four rounds of chemotherapy and 33 rounds of radiation, and because of all the trauma her body has had to go through, she also has regular physical, occupational, speech, and developmental therapies, and an MRI scan every 3 months.

Hayden is an amazingly strong little girl, and definitely very deserving of her position as Kid Captain!

To read more on Hayden's story, click HERE.

[Via UI Children's]