In October 2003, just two weeks after his second birthday. Owen started complaining of pain in his legs. He was first diagnosed with a severe bone infection, but when antibiotics didn't clear it up, his doctors started looking further. After a chance X-ray revealed a large mass around his lungs, we got the news no parent ever wants to hear: our two year-old had cancer. Owen was diagnosed with Stage IV Neuroblastoma, a rare, very aggressive cancer of the nervous system. By this time, the cancer had invaded his bone marrow, legs, head, chest and abdomen. After his first round of chemotherapy, he immediately started feeling better; and from that moment on, he kept fighting --through the initial therapy of six rounds of harsh chemo, surgery, a stem cell transplant and finally radiation. We thought he was finished with treatment and doing well when a year later, at a routine follow up exam, they found another tumor in his skull. Owen had relapsed. At that point we knew the odds were against us. But did we (or he) give up? He went back on chemo and radiation and was in remission once again. We knew the chances of our little boy surviving on regular therapy were not good so we started looking for alternative treatments.
After extensive research we found the monoclonal antibody therapy at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. Owen and Mommy traveled back and forth to New York for the next four years for treatments, doctor visits, and checkups. Some stays were long (months) and others were short (days or a week). Even though some of the therapies were excruciatingly painful. Owen endured it all with a smile and a positive attitude; his optimism was inspiring. He never complained but rather tackled every new treatment --- and in his own words "just get on with it". He managed to grow up to be a happy little boy who loved attending school, playing with Legos, anything military, his best friend Matthew and his stuffed dog, Waffle. In the four years to come we would find and commit four more relapses, all of which were treated in New York.
Unfortunately, these treatments were not without consequences and by the time Owen was seven, he started having seizures from the high doses of radiation to his brain. He had also lost partial use of his left arm and leg. He had slowly changed from the happy, go-lucky little boy into the wise soul who started asking difficult questions no parent has answers to. On August 26, 2009 at 2:25 in the morning Owen Scott Lea passed away peacefully in his sleep. Heaven gained another courageous angel and we were left to mourn the loss of our beautiful son, brother and friend.