Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Existing differently

I don't know if I finally feel like I've sorted out my thoughts or if it's going to help me to do so by writing.  I've felt impressed to share my thoughts and "loss" experience for a long time now. This blog was a great source of information and sharing during Owen's difficult battle. I had hopes that it would continue to be a place where feelings, memories, invitations for and reporting acts of service would be communicated. I do hope that it will still be a great place for me to write and for others to participate in memory making and helping others.

Owen's passing about 16 months ago was a dark time. It still feels dark sometimes. I have to admit that it's still like a dream a lot of the time. There's no "help" book for losing a child any more than the mysterious book we all wish we had about perfect parenting. Sure there are books, advice and other sources we can turn to for guidance, but the mind and personal emotions don't always pattern things you read about or hear about in other situations. Losing a family member is difficult at any time and at any age. Losing a child is difficult, but it feels wrong as much as it feels difficult.

 I still HATE cancer. That is a strong way to feel but it is honest. I never felt like cancer won and I have always felt like Owen fought and our family fought to defeat it and we did. I feel like cancer changed our lives. The change is indescribable. I don't understand how it ever crept it's ugly head into our lives the way it did because genetically, historically and sensibly it just doesn't make sense. The fact is that it doesn't matter as there are many things that never make sense but happen anyway. It's just a lot easier when the result is not death or major life alterations. I don't want to be insensitive because I am very aware that there are millions of other people in difficult situations with futures that are uncertain and family members whose lives will be short. Life takes on changes all the time, This change is a hard one to learn and it brings new emotions frequently and with frustration and sometimes anger. 

Time spent mourning has no limit. It has no pattern. It feels messy. It feels healthy sometimes. But after more than a year there is a space in my heart that I haven't been able to fill. It might fill up and fade with time, but the memories won't fade and the amount of love I feel for Owen will be a measurement of the depth of my loss. I have read and it makes sense, that  having deep love for a loved one who is lost will increase the depth of feelings of emptiness. Of course it will. Any parent understands that the love that you have for your child is a measurement too large to describe. 

Thanks to Kara for giving me a special notebook to record thoughts and things about Owen. It was theraputic to draw!
Our family has supported each other, loved and allowed mourning. Each person is different. What feels comforting or memorable to some is not the same for others. That is okay. We have a belief and understanding that we will see Owen again and we have the privilege to feel him near us as we continue our journey on this earth. I don't always feel the comfort I need from this, but I know I can be comforted when I seek for it. In dark moments or hours, there are tears. It is different from day to day and week to week. Hearing Owen's name, little or big coincidences (that are probably not coincidences at all) and his favorite things are all triggers of either comfortable memories or painful thoughts. It really depends on the day. I have accepted the reality that certain songs, people, places, foods, sounds, pictures and even smells will forever tug on my heart a little. 

As a mom of now all teenagers, I have a hard time understanding what my place is. It's a change that would've eventually come, but not so abruptly. No class parties, no bouncy back pack running to the car, no homework math jingles and silly or innocent questions from the back seat of the car. No more of a lot of things. Also, no more chemo, radiation, waking midnight hours, questioning eyes with "why me" and "it hurts", and no more experiences of living in a hospital for days and weeks at a time. There's definitely no question that it's nothing to trade for, but there is comfort knowing that Owen is break dancing, laughing, serving, socializing and Lego building in a much brighter and grander place than we can even imagine. That's my comfort for the day and I'll take it. 

 I question if I'm just not ready to get back to the things I used to do or if the things I enjoy have changed. Maybe my purpose has changed. My family means something different to me. What mattered then matters differently. I try better to live in the moment. My goal is to be better at it because I struggle. Our family has love and support from so many and we will forever be thankful. To be that love and support to others, I think, is the best gift we can give to Owen. I'm never going to stop missing him and I suppose I'll always feel a little empty in ways. Luckily, I have 3 other great children to love and hug and support and a husband who I have for a best friend and eternal companion. We all miss Owen. We move on in life with emptiness in ways that we don't have words to explain. It is part of The plan of this life. Our time here is but a moment. Without our hero brother and son, we exist differently.

Thursday, April 16, 2015


Opening to the public and super excited about it
It has been very therapeutic and truly enjoyable to reflect and learn from the unique and talented designs Owen created. As his mother I know that he had a strong desire to make something more of his art than a stack of designs on 3x5 cards.  I hope going forward I can use all of his designs to showcase his talent, to share and to give back. I know he would want that. I am sure he would, actually!
Thanks everyone for your support #caringforowen #owenstrong and feel free to share!

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Owen's Light and Thank You

This is a time of great grief still for our family.  It is a time of great peace along with learning and understanding.  The mix of emotions day to day is a wide spectrum.  We have been so blessed to have an amazing support system of friends, family, neighbors and even strangers.  It is difficult to be without our sweet Owen, but we know he is in a greater place doing a greater work. Luckily we have a comforting belief of eternal families which buoys us up when we are feeling emptiness and sadness of his passing.

It is impossible to adequately thank each and every person who gave service, prayers, understanding, and kindness to our family and to Owen.  The list is simply longer than possible to remember.  We are blessed to have so many who have done so much for us during and after Owen's battle with cancer.  He was a real light in our home and we have been comforted to know that he was a light to so many others. Many of you have shared tender feelings of how much his life blessed yours and how much his journey changed the lives of others. Thank you for sharing.  He and so many who have cared for him and for us, have changed us!  Our Christmas was made brighter by the generosity of others and our collection of cards full of kind words and thoughts has been a real testimony of the goodness of people near and far.  THANK YOU!

We hope to continue Owen's legacy by finding opportunities to help others, to serve and to make other's lives a little brighter in some way.  It is our hope to honor him with a foundation of some sort (it's too early to say how and what exactly we will do) that will allow us to continue to share his light and happy spirit.  Our family is grieving and learning to heal right now, but we all have such good memories and love for Owen that it is agreed that we should/must give back...because as a family we have been given so much. We hope this blog can continue to be a great source of information of events and opportunities for all those who wish to help us give and share in other ways.  We know that many of you have followed and read here often.

Once again, we share a GIGANTIC, SINCERE, THANK YOU!
It is not without the love and support of others that we were able to give so much time and care to Owen when he needed it most.  Especially we are grateful for a Father in Heaven who has given us a plan that will allow us to be with Owen again. Because of our Savior we know that this life is not the end.  Owen's spirit is near, we feel his love and are comforted knowing of his ability to run free and live comfortably in his spirit. He is free from the pains of this world. We miss him dearly. The reality of his absence is hard to grasp. We are proud of him and his spiritually giant personality. He fought and never gave up.
 Owen, our angel, we love you!

In the future check back and follow Caring for Owen on facebook for ways that you can help us help others.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Home Again

Surrounded at home by family, in peace and without pain, Owen went to the arms of his Heavenly Father.  He was brave, courageous and loving through every moment of his battle with cancer. He no longer suffers. We will miss his spirit in our home but are very aware he is surrounding us with his spirit in other ways. 
Families are forever!!

We Love You, Buddy

A viewing will be held Tuesday at the Stake Center from 7-9 pm.

Funeral Services will be held on Weds at the Stake Center - viewing prior to services from 10:00-10:40 am. Funeral Service starting at 11 am.

Stake Center Address
11605 N. 6000 W.
Highland, Utah

Tonight (Sunday Dec 7th) at 6 pm we will be holding a candle light vigil to honor Owen and his Family. We invite our ward family and community to join us at the Hartle's front yard. Please bring a flashlight/candle or battery tea light (we will have some on hand) and dress warm. We will sing a few short songs. Please, please join us to show our Love to the Hartle's.
We are having a candle light vigil at 6 pm at the Hartle's home

11881 N Apollo Way
Highland, Utah 84003-3648

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

18 Months In

There is a lot in my heart to try and weed through as a sit down for this post.  I am very happy to know that we have support beyond what we physically see because it is a difficult time for us right now. I feel like there are so many things to be grateful for and yet a lot I don't understand. Owen is the MOST incredible child.  I don't say that to boast or to say that other's are not amazing, I say that because I truly feel like I have seen acts of amazement in terms of coping and being able to overcome.  These past couple of weeks have been no different.

We went on Owen's Disney Cruise trip thinking he was a super trooper the way he pulled through with just enough energy to go. If that wasn't enough he proved strength by getting in the ocean water, in the middle of nowhere, during some pretty significant swells, at a sandbar and having a wild stingray encounter.  What?  I didn't even get enough energy to do that (or maybe after watching other's get off the boat and appear uneasy I decided to stay aboard and observe). Owen however, did not hesitate for a second about putting on a life jacket to have an experience. He was ready!  He was going to go out there for even 10 seconds if that's all he could do. He was being beaten up with water as Dan held him above the swells but he kept a straight face and took it all in.
That is just a very small description of some of the fun he had, but I want to save a longer and more detailed post for a time when my mind is able to pull all of those moments out.

I regret to share with so many who may or may not regularly read this blog about our current status in Owen's fight.  It is difficult and with a lack of completely knowing all that there is to know about cancer treatment to share what has ultimately come.  I simply do not know how to share such tender feelings and hope that I can do it without being too round about. Straight up facts these days are just completely no fun when it comes to treating or deciding to not treat his cancer.

Small Round Blue Cell Cancer (sarcoma, malignant) all those words we never wanted to learn more about.  Well, we learned about them. It has been a topic of discussion, tears, pain, time, heartache, worry, triumph, battle, and believe it or not a topic of learning, growth and blessings.  Miracles have been given to us many ways over the last 18 months. Owen has overcome paralysis, unconsciousness, pain, speechlessness, weakness and so much more in times when we thought he might not fully recover. We are very aware of the miracles and blessings given to him and to our family.  None without his fair share of endurance or endurance from those of us who love him. Small Round Blue Cell Tumors have also led us to a place of unknown territory. It's a rare and pretty new cancer in terms of research or effective treatment courses.  Hence the reason we chose to work with our doctors to treat it as Ewings Sarcoma which is what is it most like!  In fact diagnosis on his medical records often reads "almost Ewings Sarcoma" because it's not typical to have a cancer than isn't a type.  However it is not completely uncommon either. Our first course of treatment was very successful, but very quickly proved to be no match in terms of long lasting remission. Since then it has been hours and hours of time from many medical professionals, us as parents, relatives, out of state medical professionals and colleagues who have researched and sought answers for options. Many I have talked about in prior posts.  It is clear that answers and options are not at our fingertips. Of course, it is cancer and cancer doesn't play nice.

Just a visual....probably easier to understand if you know anatomy a little
So, after this last bout with what turned out to require a chest tube placement for drainage and a lung collapse, we were able to drain over 1500ml of fluid from Owen's chest. That's a lot.  Think of a 2 liter soda bottle and having about 3/4 of that in an adult chest let alone a 9 year old boy. It was incredible. Since then the fluid accumulation appears stable but the cost of the lung collapse and the tumors already in the lungs have made for a less than desirable recovery. We have been in dialogue for several weeks with doctors about the pressing reality that treatment options were not coming and that Owen's tumors were symptomatic. His body was becoming fragile and now especially after the trip and the unfortunate lung issue he has declined physically. He has ultimately become weak enough and unable to make enough vital blood cells and keep his strength to do any treatment for tumor reduction. We have tried so much from modern medicine to using nutritional approaches and healing powers of natural medicines including essential oils. I believe ALL have helped. We understand ALL we have sometimes is not enough. We have not however, forgotten that God is in charge of this plan and is still capable of giving miracles if miracles will be in Owen's plan. Our time right now is most important spent with moments, hours, days and anything in his interest. He is very fragile, he is fighting for his life. He is aware that love is all around him and knows he has been a brave soul with a spirit full of courage and faith.

We celebrated his Birthday on Sunday. He is a 9 year old miracle. He was able to wake for moments as he is mostly comforted only with sedating medications, but in those moments he was able to see many, many faces of birthday visitors who care for him more than he will ever know. His birthday was about love and support! It was peaceful, even though he really had a hard time feeling comfort physically, and it wasn't about opening presents and eating his cake. It was much more about comfort that on November 30th, 2014.....he was able to share his birthday with family and friends. We count blessings every day that allow us to be with our sweet boy.
A photo from last year around this same time....celebrating the holidays!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Travels, Fun and Not So Fun

This is just going to be a short post.  I don't think I've ever been able to write a short post, but really this is just information so those who are interested can understand the latest.

Disney Cruise Lines....best vacation/low maintenance planning ever.
Owen's wish trip was so much fun.  He surprised us with health and endurance that we weren't sure he was going to have. He got in the ocean a few times, swam with stingrays, went down a water slide, kayaked, and did a fine job eating cruise food and shopping the markets. If you pictured any of those activities done at regular pace or without variations from the most normal way they are done, it wasn't quite like that but definitely willing to try them all.  I will post an entire cruise vacation plus photo blog post later.  For now enjoy this super cute picture.

With so much fun over the last week, it's hard to share the not so fun news.  Owen made it home from our trip feeling very tired and started exhibiting some symptoms such as a rapid heart rate and heavy, sort of labored breathing.  He didn't really complain of pain but within 18 hours of being home I could tell he was not feeling very good at all.  He was not sure if he wanted to go to the Dr or better yet the ER because if was early evening by the time we started debating.  We agreed it was time to get these symptoms checked out.  It was clear after a quick chest xray that his left lung was experiencing issues.  We know there is tumor activity in the lungs, but it was evident on the xray that his left lung was not fully inflated.  Diagnosis was fluid surrounding the lung lining and causing a nearly completely collapsed lung.  He was breathing on his own, no oxygen supplement and really not too uncomfortable. Either that or his pain tolerance level is super human.  

Since then we have had a procedure to drain the fluid with a chest tube, morphine pain control and very little oxygen supplementation.  The tumors cause the body to eventually reach a point where the lungs cannot adequately reduce the fluid on their own, and in addition the tumor tissue has week blood vessels which easily bleed and add to the fluid accumulation.  At this point we are not sure exactly how the body will respond long term to more fluid build up or exactly what procedures we feel are adequate or too aggressive to take care of the fluid, but we are in conversation with doctors to make that decision. Beyond this latest event he is experiencing increased back pain that we are trying to manage with pain medication which up until now has been an issue for us at home.  

It is so great as always to have prayers, kind words and acts of love and kindness to help us through this time.  Owen is strong.  His caregivers are always surpised by his strong and patient attitude.  He is kind even under pressure and pain.  I would not say I would respond so well, but he is rarely too sick or in too much pain to share his sweet side.  He's lucky to be surrounded by family and loving friends and neighbors, not to mention his Heavenly Father who he knows cares about him so much. It is our hope to get him home soon and to enjoy this time of year with as much health as we can provide for him.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Fall Y'all and a Little Walt Disney

November.  November?  I can't believe we have made it to November!  I guess it's going to happen every year regardless of what's going on in our lives, but time is flying. My days feel a little Groundhog Day like, but in reality time is moving on.  We have spent some time this past month doing what most people did and doing what a lot of people will never do. We also made it through some fun things, hit milestones and achieved goals in our family that will be unforgettable.

Looking back over the last few months it has been very fun to watch a new found talent of Owen's. I mentioned his art last post, but he has become increasingly more passionate.  He has been a real content kid while being so sick. Some things he enjoys are Legos, learning, and playing on his Ipad.  Unknowingly he became very involved in doing art.  He started out by doing a daily "Art Card" where he would simply draw a 3x5 picture, mostly abstract style art on an index card.  He did this everyday.  He still does.  He makes a new one and adds to the collection.  In doing so he has become very artistic.  He names each piece.  He recently asked me if he could sell his art or if it was good enough to sell.  Of course it's good enough and of course I told him he could sell it.  We have been working hard to make a good collection that's interesting and are trying to find the proper way to offer his pieces for sale online.  Hopefully before you know it you can browse his many designs and if you'd like, buy a masterpiece made by a hero.
His latest canvas as he was just beginning.

A small sample of the 5x7 art Owen has been producing.
Fall activity has been a  visit to Hee Haws, carving pumpins, dressing up and watching 4-A high school soccer. (Owen's big sister is 3x State Champion this year). In comparison to last year, Halloween this year was a huge success for Owen.
Hee Haw Farms 2014 

Carving those pumpkins

Skeleton and his crazy dad....dressed up like a "Dude"?

The other Halloween kiddos
 I would not call Owen's  current condition or emotional well being at it's best, but last year he literally could not lift his head off a pillow.  I could not even beckon him to the door to see the Trick or Treat spooks last year. He was much too uncomfortable and simply did not care.  He really didn't feel good enough to feel bad about missing out, and until it was all over he never really said much about it.  This year, however, he was able to get enough strength to dress up and attend his school costume parade.  After a nap or two during the day, he dressed up in the evening and wheel chaired around the neighborhood for some treats. I think without the wheelchair it may have ended after a couple of houses, but he lasted much longer and was able to feel a part of the community and kids doing the same thing. That is hard to come by some days.  Just doing normal things feels great sometimes.
At the semi-final game for his sister's most amazing game!

We visited the hospital clinic a few times in October. Owen has had more IV pokes for blood draws, medication, blood products and chemo (I'll explain more later) in the last month than one person should ever have. His central line was removed in March when we originally got word that his cancer was NED, or no evidence of disease. If you read this blog you know that the remission phase was unpleasantly short and since then it has been a debate whether or not any treatment is effective enough to merit putting another line in.  A lot of the chemo and treatment we have done since then has been oral. It doesn't mean that he doesn't need blood tests and those require pokes.  Lately, more often than before. Due to his skinny arms, used veins and occasionally a less experienced technician, it seems that a double poke has been more common. If we continue a treatment regimen other than oral it is likely we will be doing a pic line before too long.  At the end of October we opted to do a round of mild chemotherapy to stop any tumor growth and get Owen's body in a good position to prepare for his Make A Wish.

We were hoping to be able to get Owen accepted into a least one study, but as October approached we started to also hesitate a little wondering what we would do if the opportunity presented itself. We really hoped that he would get to go on his Make-A-Wish cruise and if he were offered a spot just before we were planning to go, that might be hard to take knowing that ultimately the wish cruise is such an important thing to him.  Not that an opportunity at cancer cell death is not, but in his condition and in his case, there are no guarantees, but the cruise is set, tickets bought,  and luggage tags are in hand.  We did not have to deal with the excruciating decision of taking a spot offered in a study or not, because a spot still has never been offered.  Humph and Hooray for different reasons.

November has a arrived.  It was long awaited for by Owen and of course for his anxious siblings.  It was gifted back in April that Owen could go on a Disney Cruise.That was his ultimate wish, but he would not be able to go til November.  Well, it's here and our family is going.  The chemotherapy treatment seems to have been somewhat effective at calming his tumors and we are figuring out a safe and effective dose of his medications to maintain any pain and discomfort or emotional stress so that he can immerse himself as much as possible into the FUN AND EXCITEMENT.  It is a time of lots of nerves knowing that we will travel with the whole family and a sick child, who has medically been cleared to go!  It's kind of been like a nail biting and pins and needles situation for me as we prepared for this time.  Would he feel well enough, would he still want to go, would the docs find him well enough to go and does it carry too many risks?  I asked all of these questions and stressed and worried because traveling normally creates some anxiety (good exciting kind and hectic kind), but this has been different anxiety. I don't know if Dan felt it like me, but we discussed the amazing gift that this is for Owen and we both agree it's so important to be able to give him something so special and hopefully invigorating. Owen spends a lot of time resting, thinking of activities that require little walking, little physical effort and low demand.  This is the perfect opportunity for him to just take it in....to let Disney entertain him however actively he feels to be involved or not. We want this for him and as much as he deserves it, our other three kids have endured much over the past 18 months and will welcome this fantastic opportunity to be careless kids.

In anticipation of our trip our doctors have planned one last clinic visit to get a full exam of what Owen will need to be ready for this trip. It may be platelets and blood, or just platelets....or if magic has happened (or blessings we have prayed for) he may have enough platelets to surprise us all and need nothing.  It is good.  This time has been long awaited and during a time of feeling like there's not much we can do....this trip is something many people have charitably made possible that WE CAN DO! Thank you Make A Wish volunteers/donations, though we don't know who you are personally. With so many ways to give back I hope we can return the favor and pay it forward someday.

Sailing away we hope to have many prayers for a safe, healthy and happy trip.  Please keep Owen in your prayers.  We feel the love and care of so many and have no way to adequately thank you, but we will forever remember what you have done.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Hope and Gifts of Kindess

Time for a little, or a lot of updating.  It's past time, overdue and as usual I had good intentions for writing a post much sooner.  There are many reasons I procrastinate writing updates on the blog, the biggest one being that there are always changes and plan deviations with treatment and most of the time I am waiting for the right moment to tell the "good news".  I'm going to be honest, the good news is slow to come this time. Not that there hasn't been good things and good times, but the news of good progress and good options is still not exactly where we had hoped.

We were able to go to San Francisco in September to meet with a physician there.  The purpose of the visit with him was to get into better position and eligibility for a clinical trial and to hear about some alternate trial options that we might pursue. The reason for considering clinical trials is because as mentioned before, there are not a lot of good, successful options waiting around for us to try.  The best one's out there we have already given to Owen.  Clinical trials offer hopeful options but carry risks, and that is something we consider as we look into them.  While in San Francisco for our day visit we were able to drive around the city.  We saw the Bay Bridge. We were amazed by residential streets and architecture and we visited the Ghiridelli Square and sampled a little chocolate.  Owen probably only enjoyed these things about 1/2 as much as we'd hoped just because he was experiencing a lot of hip pain.
The Bay Bridge in the fog
 He could only walk short distances.  I carried him. Dad carried him.  It was actually pretty cold and the fog prevented us from truly enjoying the bridge because of a misty rain that pursued most of the day. Owen was not feeling too awesome after flying and before his appointment he was a different boy than the one that was excited to take an adventure to the doctors office for once.  A little medicine helped and the appointment went quite well. We were impressed by the care and interest  the doctor showed in Owen's case.  It's great to have understanding and involved caregivers. We discussed options, talked about his current situation and received a few papers to look over, consider timing, trial benefits and risks and research. Ultimately we left San Francisco with a little hope, more driven for a spot in a very coveted clinical trial, and felt like we had added to the small army of people fighting for Owen's sake. Needless to say, the spots have opened up for the trial a few time since then and we were still unable to get in. It's simply.....unlucky.

A small sample of Owen's art....he has some abstract stuff going on!
Owen is doing good.  He has been a little less energetic and not quite his smiling self over the past month, but he is a very strong and brave boy. Even strong and brave people have a hard time smiling sometimes. However, he is amazingly motivated.  He goes to school (still with the agreement that a parent sit outside of the classroom all day) unless he has appointments .  That fact that he has energy and drive to be in class every day is a true miracle.  He has undergone doses of radiation for tumor growth and pain in both his hip and back over the last 4 weeks. It was 5 days for his hip and 5 days for his back. Radiation side effects can make him very tired and can actually cause pain before it relieves pain. Still, he wakes up ready to go. I wake up hoping he'll want to stay home for a nap so that I can have one too. He finishes all of his homework with accuracy and speed and even goes above and beyond doing other work he missed. His motivation to finish his work and desire for accuracy is amazing. He's even started doing some art on his own.  He has plans to sell it. It's pretty cool and such a great way for him to express himself.
Working on his art cards.

His sleeping has been very sporadic due to some severe leg and back pain and insomnia from medications.  When he's not sleeping, I'm not sleeping. The whole family feels it, even though it's mostly Owen and I that have long hours dealing with stuff in the night. I hear this comment all the time from people, and I think this same thing to myself. "He has every excuse to feel too tired, too sick, uncomfortable and unmotivated to spend so much effort on school" but he uses no excuse and has a stronger drive and motivation and most kids there. I think that it's a blessing and it's his one way of feeling like an eight year old doing eight year old things.  It's pretty unconventional to sit with him and spend our days at the school, but cancer is pretty unconventional and it makes for a pretty unconventional family life as well. We want to give him every opportunity to do something he CAN do, because the reality is there are lot of things he CAN'T do.

Owen has been given happy moments and days through the generosity of others who give of their time and they want for him to find happiness.  He was given the chance to be the "Thursdays Hero" at BYU with the football program.  Of course there are perks and one of them is getting to meet people you might not normally have the opportunity to.  He was also able to watch an RSL practice and meet the players. People do good things to find ways to cheer him up, make him feel special and give him things to look forward to.  It is amazing that after 17 months of cancer treatment the charity never stops. People always want to help. I've said it before, but one thing I have learned is that people truly are GOOD!
Real Salt Lake
Players signed his shirt

A one-on-one meeting with Bronco. The guy in charge of the program said this was unusual and something he hasn't seen Bronco do quite like this before. Owen is getting the special treatment for a special kid.
Cheering out the team

Lucky to get a jersey of his own. 
There are some pretty exciting things on the horizon for Owen.  It was granted this past May that he get a wish from Make A Wish Foundation.  He was formally granted his wish and plans were set in place for him to go on his dream vacation.  He chose to go on a Disney Cruise with the family and that is now arranged for the near future. It is something that he has been so patient to receive because he waited the whole summer before the opportunity was made available.  A representative from Make A Wish came and gave him a true-life treasure hunt and announced his wish with the support of his 3rd grade class.  That day he was able to smile a quite a bit. He looks forward to experiencing every detail of the ship which he has fully studied. He has planned and watched many, many other families (all strangers of course) Youtube video vacation's aboard Disney Cruise lines. We pray and ask for prayers that he will be physically well and able to enjoy this gift as it is truly a dream of his.

What's next for Owen is the biggest question.  It's a question without a lot of sure answers. Miracles do happen.  He may get into a study, he may have strength to fight and win his cancer in ways that have not been presented and maybe one of the options that we have been mulling over will turn out to be the right one.  He has our love and attention beyond what he can comprehend.  It takes an army of people to get through this trial and we are so lucky to have been surrounded by so many of our good friends, family and strangers. Our other kids have been patient and mature people as they see us fight for Owen. It takes everyone, it takes time and it takes energy that isn't really there sometimes. Small round blue cell tumor is an aggressive cancer as we have found. It has been a real educational experience to search, study and ponder which things are medically "right" for Owen.  It is also frustrating, tiring and humbling as we try to understand this life.  It has taught that we must always trust in the Lord and find faith even when we most want to let go and give up.  I might be speaking for myself, but I think our family is finding great comfort in the closeness and time we enjoy with each other. There is a lot to be thankful for and finding something to be grateful for each day is what keeps us going.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Owen's Street, Literally!

It's easy to feel like there is too much information to share so I get overwhelmed and I don't share.  Then I feel like it means so much more to us to have so many people on our side thinking about, praying for and supporting us that I know that I should update the blog and share Owen's journey.  It is a journey that is constantly changing and the only sure thing is change.
Amazing geometric fish art hanging in the school hall, by Owen.
There are some things that haven't changed. The wait is still on to try and get an acceptance into a specific clinical trial. It is ongoing and openings are random as is being accepted into the study. It really has been tough to wait each month to hear whether there was a chance he could get in, then the chances came and went and that was just DUMB.  I don't have a good explanation of how the randomness of the study candidates are chosen other than to say I know that any parent in our position thinks their child needs it the most and every parent is right.  The problem is there is not really a first in line, top of the list sequence.  It is literally like I stated in my last post. It's a matter of clicking the mouse first and then passing all the criteria exams to be qualify as "a go". So far, not "a go".

Owen had his second round of this new Chemo. That is the best we have right now.  It wasn't our favorite week of side effects after, but we also didn't know that we weren't really facing just side effects....in addition he had C-diff (if you have had a hospital bound or immunocompromised family member you know this term, if not the Internet will tell you more).  He was so sick.
A common scene in the back seat of the car.  We keep plenty of pillows and blankets for a comfortable ride for him.
 The problem was the the side effects of chemo are similar, but not nearly as severe, to the C-Diff.  Let's just say it was a lot of time in a bathroom, very little eating, and stomach pain to level 10. I was unable to accept one more day of watching him be so uncomfortable so off to the clinic we went and after tests, fluids and correct meds to clear his infection, he perked up nicely.  I felt better because he felt better.  Our family actually had some time together because he could be out of bed and out of the house.  That is always so refreshing.

Just before the scan began.  He is amazingly patient and can handle lying still for a long time.
Early in August Owen had a PET scan which we miraculously made it through.  After days of Owen not being able to eat, drink or stay out of the bathroom I was amazed that he could drink the yummy :/ contrast juice and lay in a machine for 40 mins for images. He is a champ. Imaging time to check for cancer growth can be a nightmare, anxiety overload. Waiting for specialists to review and report is cause for a major gut ache.  We all try to anticipate positively, even though nobody at home really says much.  The morning after the scan we got a phone call from our oncologist.  The bump that we had noticed on Owen's leg was cancer as suspected.  The rest of the news was just a jumbled mess of other areas of concern and confirmation of very small but positive growth on his spine, lungs and liver.   Boo!  Needless to say that was a rough morning for me and my husband and eventually for my kids as we shared the news.  However, the tumor in his brain was nearly gone.  This cancer comes, goes and moves around.  I think I asked the unanswerable, WHY at least a hundred times that day?  In the past weeks, as parents, we have spent hours and hours of time doing our own research.  What else is out there?  What are the options?  Do we know what's best for him and for the cancer?  These questions have to be asked and have to be pondered.  We have 3 other kids and if you count all of the great things they are doing, the time we spend supporting them and all of the normal life stuff, it's a lot.  Add in a head full of thoughts, fears, decisions, and emotion of where and what the future is for Owen.  I'm not sure how we do it all.  I have been feeling a lot like I did in the beginning, wanting to push all life aside and not just focus on Owen's care, but forget everything else. It's unrealistic to think that dropping everything would make him better, but I wish it would work.  We give him all we have, and try and pray to give all  the rest to each other and our other kids as well. I don't know if we are doing very good at it, but we try.

While driving home from work, I was thinking (that is what a commute is good for). Life has so many parts, pieces, days, possibilities, and varieties.  Life goes on all around us.  In reality we only touch on a tiny part of the vast amount of possible scenarios our lives could take on.  In my mind I knew and I felt like there were millions of people who had no idea of my scenario. So many whose lives would never touch into a situation similar to mine or have understanding of how it is to live with a sick child. And likewise I would never fully understand other's scenarios of life.  It made me think. I didn't really have a moral of the story or an AH HA moment quote that came out of the thought. Mostly I just find myself amazed to know how big this world really is and how small we ultimately are as part the big picture.  I am grateful that I have an understanding of why I'm here, where I'm going and what forever means to me.  Not having a purpose in this world would be awful.  I'm grateful everyday for an understanding of the gospel, families and individual worth.  I expect that driving alone in the car will bring many more thoughts, and hopefully help me make the best decisions for myself and my family.
Speaking of decisions, we have decided to expand our research of options for Owen.  Partly by chance and with the help of friends, doctors and our own ideas we have been able to have doctors from CA looking into Owen's case.  It has been our hope to have (though obviously not yet happened) CHOC, a hospital in California accept Owen into the clinical trial, so they have been working closely with our doctors.  Now we have been contacted by a children's hospital in San Francisco who also reached out to offer help with possible treatment options and other ideas. Check the map for the name of the street the hospital clinic is on....We'll take it as a stroke of good luck!
 Details are still in the works and it is our hope that we can visit them in the next week to discuss more.  I have confidence another set of eyes and opinions is not going to hurt. We have so much faith in our Dr here at Primary Children's Hospital.  We are so grateful to her for her time and willingness to help us expand our options.  I don't know how those amazing doctors and nurses manage their emotions and relationships with all the kids.  It has got to take a special personality to give so much in an area of expertise that is so confusing and unpredictable.  We are looking forward to our visit to San Fran and feeling somewhat hopeful.

Despite some discomfort of his hip, feeling tired and overwhelmed at times, Owen has been able to be in school.  Of course it's only the start of the school year, but already way better attendance than last year.
1st day of school picture.

Already filling the halls with artwork and writing. 
 He doesn't feel comfortable there alone, so we are doing our best to be at the school and work, accomplish tasks, and attend third grade with him.  We want him to go and to feel like he's doing 8 year old, third grader things.  It has been great to see him enjoy it.  It's unpredictable how his days will be so giving him an opportunity to go when he can is important.  The school has been great and accommodated to our setting up office outside the classroom.  They have offered cushioned office chairs as a perk. It has given me time to sit here and post on the blog.  It all works out. We live our days in the scenario we are given, and today I'm grateful for the chance to sit outside of the 3rd grade classroom and realize that ALL of my kids are able to be at school.  That means it's a good day! :)

Friday, August 1, 2014

Clinical Trial Trials

Just a short post to share the information about the clinical trial I spoke of in the last post.  The information we got was that spots (we were unclear as to how many) for the trial would open up on Monday.  Those spots did open and it seems that they were few, as few as three.  We also learned that Owen was not able to get in to the trial this time around.  It turns out that even with doctors who belong to an organization which is involved in advocating for children with cancer and treatment study the way that the acceptance works is by a click of the computer.  The spots are opened and lucky first clicks on the computer get in.  It's kind of like trying to get into a course you need in high school or college, where you are fighting for 50-100 spots in a class and if you click fast enough, you get in.  Only for Owen, it means a lot more and is a matter of likely more successful treatment vs. continuing what we know has been used in the past.

So it means that we must move forward. We have started another round of chemo.  We will hope and pray that clinical opens up again soon and that the world of cancer study and treatment will continue to unfold great options.  For now we will do all we can to have faith that he can maintain his health and pray that the chemo will do as much good for him as it did in the past.

A quick visit to the zoo before chemotherapy side effects kick in.  Fatigue (pretty severe) and stomach disrupt have been the culprits with this type of therapy.....NOT TOO BAD TODAY, THOUGH!
In addition to being grateful for the hard work of the doctors in Owen's behalf, we also want to express thanks for the hard work and preparation for a fundraiser going on tomorrow. All who have participated should know how much it means to us. It's incredible to have such continued support.  Information is on the  Caring for Owen fb page.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Super Summer 2014

From swimming, to soccer tournaments, to a sleep study and much more, Owen has been busy as has the family.  Our summer is more typical this year, not completely normal, but much more summer-like than last year.  The fact that Owen has been able to receive his chemotherapy out-patient (for the most part) has allowed the family to be together and do more together.  Last year we spent so much time apart due to required admit to the hospital for treatment and other complications. I wish I could say Owen feels fabulous compared to last year at this time, but I definitely think the side effects are more manageable this time around.  He is doing well.
One of the swimming days when we got 3 kids in the pool at the same time

So, an update since the post in May goes something like this:
We had 27 radiation appointments at Huntsman to deliver shrinking radiation doses to Owen's brain tumor, a small tumor in his left hip and also some irregular cancer activity in the heads of both his femurs. Those appointments finished approximately the end of the first week of June.  During that time he took an oral chemo that was mostly just fatiguing and caused some nausea. The chemo mixed with the radiation was especially fatiguing and Owen was able to do a little activity in between naps. He did quite well considering the treatment duration. Lucky for him he has MANY friends at Huntsman so it was nice to see their friendly faces each day.  He lost his hair, again.  That was due to the brain radiation and it was rather interesting how precise the target beam was because he kept a funny line of hair at the bottom of his neck that was exactly straight across.  I should have taken a picture.  We call it his mullet. During the radiation we consulted with many doctors and those we trust who have also been very helpful and supportive in our fight.  Many colleagues of our doctors and radiology specialists met and at the tumor board discovered that Owen may be best treated through a clinical trial that is taking place at a few locations across the country. As we researched further into the possibility of being accepted into the study (based on cancer type, areas of occurrence, Dr's recommendations, sites available doing the study, affects and outcomes) we felt like it was his best hope as well. Since then we have been working closely with our Dr to prepare and we are crossing our fingers that the acceptance into the study will come and that timing will be right for him to begin.  The hardest part of the study will be to arrange traveling and accommodations to the study site for treatment.  There is not a location in the state.  There are several locations across the country however, and most conveniently in CA.  Until we get accepted we really don't have a way to determine what the demands of travel will be and how we can make it possible.  We just know we will do it somehow and with whatever means we have or can get. The most recent news is that we should hear something for this round, MONDAY MORNING - TOMORROW! We have prayed and so many others have prayed that Owen will be able to take part in the study. Thank you for your support. We have faith that if it is the right thing, it will happen.

Luckily, after the radiation treatment we were given a couple of weeks of treatment free, appointment free time that we could spend time as a family doing some summer things.  We even took a little trip to Carlsbad, CA, which is a place we love so much.  We had generous friends and acquaintances who were able to share some connections they had to help us take our family and more importantly, Owen, to Legoland and to help us with a great near beach location for a week.  We loved our last minute trip and I have to admit I didn't realize how bad I needed it until we were there. We spent our time doing whatever, whenever and however we felt which is truly the definition of a "vacation" in my opinion.  No big plans, no have to be somewhere or meet someone and meal times and wake up/sleep times were not in accordance with the clock.  Now that's a vacation dream. Life for the past year or so has been nothing like that, and not that any family gets vacation time often, but it was void of anything medical and especially sickness or inability to go.  WOW!

The Lego cars were his favorite
The Carlsbad Seapointe Resort was a fantastic place to chill and play
We have been able to take Owen swimming which was off the table last year due to his central line.  He does not have one right now and hopefully won't have to.  We will see if the study or treatment plan changes but we are hopeful he gets to avoid that for now. We've been able to swim at our family friend's home who have been so generous with their pool.  This is great considering we are avoiding all the germs and crowds at a public pool. Our other kids have kept the family busy with their soccer schedules and summer activities, but the best part is we could all go to the games together.  Owen probably knows more about soccer than most kids who play soccer at his age simply because he has watched so many soccer games.  Not to mention the World Cup that was so conveniently going on during our trip. He doesn't love that he's not strong enough or agile enough to play for himself, but he's a great fan for his siblings.

Owen had a sleep study done last week.  Those are not fun.  The sleeping test part is fine.  Keeping a kid awake with only 4 hours of sleep prior is torture for the parent and the kid.  The rules were that he could sleep the night before, but for only 4 hours.  We chose his 4 hour block to be from 2-6 am.  We stay up late usually and it seemed easier to extend that than any other times. It was rough.  Not only was it hard to stay awake til 2, it was even more difficult to stay away and stay busy from 6 am to his appointment time at 1pm. Ouch, foggy brain, OUCH! We pretty much did it.  I let Owen sleep in the car for about 15 minutes on the way to Primary for the study because I felt so bad for him. I watched his head bob over and over again in the back seat. It was painful. Good news after the study is that they saw no seizure activity and were able to lower his medications.  It is a slow process to ween meds of that nature, but it will be great if we can get him off of them to help with his energy level.  He will still take chemotherapy orally in intervals if the study doesn't come through this round, but for the most part he is taking very little to manage symptoms and we are still using essential oils in addition (topically).  They are helpful for sure.
One of the tournaments with his sister! 2 championships in our family so far this summer!

It has been a whirlwind of a spring and summer with the unknown future of treatment and outcome.  We have done this before. We can and are doing it again.  I'm usually in good spirits about how things are going but occasionally I feel like there is just no way this can be happening.  Owen is typically more than positive and as resilient as ever.  It has been hard to consider school, fall plans and all else that is coming up simply because we don't know how or what Owen's health will be.  Those times are frustrating for me. For today, we just try to take advantage of the health and happiness he has.  He is still hoping and planning for the Make-A-Wish Disney Cruise that they were unable to grant him during the spring or summer due to availability and timing. It is set for the fall. We hope and pray that he stays strong during whatever treatment plan we undertake just so he can be healthy enough to go. It is still his main wish.  For now we will just continue to enjoy summer.  Hopefully the news about the study on Monday will give us a new focus and anticipation of what's next.  Please keep him in your prayers. Thanks to all for your support.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Tough Kid and Take 2

Writing a new post is not difficult to do.  It's not even too time consuming if I just sit down and do it.  The difficult part is the content of this particular post.  I have been struggling to find words to share the latest with our HERO Owen. I may have put off blogging because there was a part of me that feels like this period of time is blurry, unreal and confusing. I have been taking time to just absorb reality and move in to the next step. I think I can share now....I'm going to try.

If  you are friend or family you may have already heard the news that cancer has reoccurred.  Remission was short.  Too short.  I guess that's what happens sometimes.  Owen was growing enough hair that we could have almost cut it.  He was active and much more healthy than he had been. We suspected nothing was going wrong or headed in that direction. Cancer is sneaky.  School was going well and Owen had begun physical therapy.  Our summer was within reach and we were all ready to take it on.  We still are, but it will be much different than anticipated.
Healthy just days before the tumor was diagnosed.
 On May 9th Owen was at a sibling's soccer game with me.  We watched, we played catch with a mini soccer ball and we planned a night of fun afterwards.  There was a moment where Owen mentioned some tingling in his right foot. His left foot and side had done this before and it was brief. Dr's advised that it was likely side effects of his prior surgery and chemo treatment.  I was not concerned as this new episode was a lot the same as before and should go away.  After 15 minutes it only got worse and after walking with Owen to a bathroom I was very aware that his right side was weak and uncoordinated.  He knew that too and was visibly scared. After discussion with Oncology at the hospital I decided that I felt strongly that I should take him to the ER. It was progressed enough by the time we got in the car that he could not lift his right arm or leg.  I suspected a stroke (which would be rare) and ER checked him for stroke symptoms as well.  It was found that he didn't have other stroke symptoms so it was on to the next checklist and planning of tests.  I was aware from previous discussions that cancer regrowth in his back could cause this, but I felt it would be too soon to have enough growth to cause the problem.  I denied the idea. As the hour progressed in the exam room, an MRI was ordered and preparations were being made. Then the next symptom started.  Owen could  not talk.  He was trying and I could see in his eyes he was trying.  It was scaring me and my instincts kicked in to be crazy "get someone in here NOW" mom.  I was feeling that now we were on to something even more serious. I wondered if this was in fact a stroke. They got more doctors, more nurses and more people.  They moved him into another room and started ordering more tests and more meds.  It was 10 mins and he still didn't talk and he looked more blank.  It was when his arm started pulsing that I knew he was having a seizure. Things progressed and doctors from many departments were all gathered and before I knew it (well, I knew what they were doing) Owen was intubated, had 2 IV's and was sedated to allow for an MRI and to calm the seizure. Did I mention that Dan, my husband, was out of town at the time?  I was sort of feeling alone. I called a sister and she and her husband came to be with me.

Time seemed to tick by slowly while I waited for answers.  I had support and company to keep my mind busy, but all I really did was think about the possibilities.  Finally at approximately 2 am a neurologist delivered the news.  I felt like I was being sucked into an UN-reality show.  I was hearing news I felt I could never hear again, nor did I want to.  There was a tumor in Owen's left side of brain.  Details were foggy, but it was big enough to definitely be the source of all of his symptoms and would unlikely be anything else but re-occurrence of his cancer.  I was devastated. I felt for Owen and I thought of all of his excitement for his upcoming summer.  He missed a lot of being a kid last summer and here we were again.  May 10th, 2am and we were hearing the initial report. Of course we wanted more details, but they would have to wait until they had more time to look and to talk to other doctors. Then it occurred to me.  The date, May 10th, was the same exact day we heard last year in 2013 that our boy had cancer.  This truly was UN-reality.  Once I got hold of my husband to give him the status and the news, I hung up the phone and tried again to get in touch of what was happening. We had discussed ways for him to get home quickly, but if there was a quick way it wasn't quick enough. It was almost 48 hours before he got there to see Owen, and I was probably unrecognizable at that point with barely any sleep and inability to eat. It was a blessing to for Owen to see dad and for me to have my other support and strength in decision making.

Minutes after Owen's intubation tube was removed and he was
dreaming about Chick-fil-A
Tests were performed, medications were adjusted and within a couple of days we were able to have an alert, but tired Owen. He was improving by Monday morning.  There were some lingering symptoms and pending decisions on how to treat them. The bigger decision was how to treat the tumor. It is inoperable. We knew we needed to do something and with advice from doctors and specialists who we trust, we were able to move forward with radiation therapy first. Bone marrow biopsy was done: negative for cancer cells. Spinal fluid was tested: negative for cancer cells. However, while testing, scanning and planning for treatment there was discovery of a second small tumor.  It was about 2cm on the pelvis. We are all a little confused at this strange, still mysterious, small round blue cell tumor cancer.  Many medical professionals are involved in research to help better understand the cancer and the best treatment plan.  Brain tumors usually respond well to radiation and we needed to move forward with a plan.  We started right away, and will now include a short round of radiation to shrink the already small pelvis lesion.  We are now about half way done with the radiation dosing and seizure and neurological side effects from the pressure of the tumor have nearly diminished.  Fatigue, hunger (from steroids) and a case of the chubby cheeks have set in.  Owen is amazing. He has been very compliant with procedures. He is brave and consistent in doing what we can to get this crazy cancer into remission...again.  He has shown moments of disappointment knowing he is missing parts of his summer, losing his hair, and feeling less than healthy.  I don't blame him.  I have felt those feelings with him, along with so many more.  He has great support and his siblings sure have given a great amount of love to him during this difficult time.  They are pretty amazing, too.
Getting hooked up to the EEG machine for observation and
confirmation of type of seizure activity

Sporting the "Olaf" hat during his testing overnight.
The range of emotions is wide each day.  We feel gratitude for so many people who truly care so much. Disappointment that cancer has it's own way.  Sadness that our amazing Owen has been inflicted with the disease.  I would be lying if I said I haven't felt Angry, because there are moments that I don't know who or what to be angry at, but I feel it.  Scared is a great word to describ being in the decision making position and for Owen when he has to face procedures and tests. Most of all we are OPTIMISTIC.   We are doing our best to stay positive and to recognize and hope for miracles. There are so many uplifting  and positive stories of brave kids, men and women who fight and battle successfully during cancer treatment.  We pray and make efforts to seek guidance from doctors, professionals and the spirit which we know helps us make better decisions and can give Owen a chance at remission. We know that there is no cure for cancer, but our chances of Owen getting better are still within reach.  Keep him in your prayers. He is such a kind, patient and strong boy and has so many friends, old and young.  We know he is loved.
Feeling so much better and ready to come home
Cool but restrictive face mask to help stabilize his head during radiaton.

After radiation in mid-June, we will meet and plan for additional treatment, most likely another type of chemotherapy. For now, we will take whatever good, energetic days that Owen has and summer will go on in a special way in 2014.
We've been able to attend the pinewood derby since his diagnosis.
Hooray for strength and improvement.

Also, a kind friend donated some REAL Salt Lake tickets and Owen and Dan
were able to attend. 

Monday, April 14, 2014

April Announcements

It's April.  I am amazed at the amount of time that has passed and how life is continuing to change and carry on post treatment.  It is definitely a part of time I am happy to be in, but it is also a strange and "new" part of living in cancer remission.  Owen is doing GREAT!  By great I don't mean that life has resumed as it was or that it is like he never had ailments.  He is however great in terms of how far he's come and how well he seems to be healing and recovering.  Emotionally, there has been some adjusting for everybody.  It's hard to find a way to resume with daily things, with life and normalcy when you've just spent 10 months learning to protect, stand guard and handle a sick child. Not to mention the rest of the family on the side. February 6th was his last hospital discharge date and since then for the most part it has been a time of healing and moving on.

Owen has been to school, not regularly, but going as well as he can for now.  He made it to primary for the first time today, since last April. He said he loved it, he missed it and now he feels like he's a part of it again. It's good to see him enjoy things again. He was able to get his broviac central line out about 3 weeks ago.  That was just in time to go to a soccer tournament in Las Vegas where it was warm enough to swim.  Waiting to get the central line out was quite a wait.  Blood counts are important in recovery from chemotherapy and just in general.  Dr's wanted (and so did we) Owen's body to be able to fight infections, not require IV medications or transfusions before his line came out just to avoid unnecessary IV insertions and needle sticks. It took his body a long time to recover so Owen became very anxious and by the time the actual day, came he was more than ready to have it gone.  He had a mental picture in his head that once that silly line was gone he would finally....."be just like a normal kid".
The line is out.  It was a quick procedure, sedation required, but recovery was fast.
 He felt so great about it that on his way home from the hospital he was already thinking of all the things he/we had avoided during the time.  Immediately he was ready to plan the next long awaited event.

We could not get enough swimming time to please Owen.   He had not even touched a toe into a pool at all last summer.  He was really more excited to get into the water than anything.  He swam and played so much that he wore the skin right of the bottom of his feet and we had to doctor them up. Luckily there was a nice pool where we stayed and with all of his sisters teammates who adore him he was able to swim and play without a lot of crazy other kids.  Most things we do now require some easing into and that was the way it was but for only a short time in the pool.

It seems like one of the things that is hardest in life is waiting for that next thing to happen. Knowing that change will make life easier and as humans we wait for a positive change that we know is coming. In reality it's better to live in the moment and enjoy things as they are. It's best to recognize blessings and see the brighter side of things.  Easier said than done though, right?  I have been thinking heavily on how to live more "in the moment" and though I am making an effort, I have a lot of work to do. Owen is better at doing that than me and he is also very patient. Moving forward with life after cancer treatment and knowing the statistics and possibility of cancer returning in the future make it a little harder for me to relax and live in the moment. I'm still guarding, anticipating and thinking ahead.  I have to stop.  I have much to be grateful for and want to be a better example of enjoying where we've come and from where we came in this situation and in life.

After all, being patient has it's rewards.  It's not the most important thing to have hair....but it's rewarding to grow hair again after not having it for a while.
At about exactly week 6 post chemo this was happening!!  HAIR

Owen and his fantastic snowboarding teacher.
Making some moves on the hill.

Being patient allowed Owen to heal and become strong enough to have snowboard lessons that were donated to him through an organization "Team Mason Foundation" and Canyons ski resort.  He made it to the resort once before finishing treatment and again just this week.  He is looking forward to continuing future opportunities to fine tune his skills and learn some tricks.

Coming up this month is a great milestone in Owen's life.  He is going to be baptized a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  At the time of his birthday he was not in a position which was comfortable for him and doctor's felt better about us waiting to do the ordinance when he was free from a central line.  He is very excited and has looked forward to his baptism for months now.  He also has the opportunity during the summer to go to a special camp just for cancer patients and their siblings.  We heard a lot about these camps during the summer last year, but he was much to fragile to attend. We are so grateful and excited for the volunteers who make it possible for them to mingle and enjoy the company of others in the same situation.

I wish for a rule.  The rule is: If you've been sick to a certain degree or for a long period of time, immunity tto all other ailments is granted.  That sounds like a lot to ask, I know. Some people are sick there entire life and I know that too. It's just difficult to watch someone suffer and be unhealthy. Because we live life it's not possible to have perfect health all the time but it just seems wrong that already Owen had a run in with pneumonia. Last week started out with sniffles, which turned into a lot of congestion. Almost like a light switch he developed a cough that was non-stop and was uncontrollable.  I had used my doTerra oils which previously worked great, but I could tell whatever he had was becoming medically concerning.  The next day's chest  xray confirmed pneumonia.  Not extreme, but enough that with his history and discomfort he was treated with some antibiotics, nebulizer and of course rest and fluids. It didn't take long for him to perk up, but my mind immediately went into protection and sanitization mode.  I am just so used to doing all of that and getting sick was something we avoided so well during treatment. 
Doing what it takes to get better.  He's always such a trooper.

I'm so lucky to have such great kids. I have watched Owen's brothers and sisters care for him through much of the last year.  They deserve a pat on the back as much as he does.  He's been an important part of their lives as much as they would like to have focused on their friends, social lives, and themselves as most kids do...they give a lot of time and attention to him.  As parents Dan and I have prayed to know how to help each of them feel important and hoped that we would have enough time and attention for their normal, busy, healthy lives.  I must say that it hasn't been easy, but they always seem to understand and they share their time with us by helping and giving support and care of their littlest brother.  What a blessing.  Each of them deserve a high-five.