CHICAGO (CBS) — A two-year-old battling cancer got quite the send off before going in for his second round of stem cell treatment Thursday.
He has spent roughly seven months fighting for his life, which is almost half as long as he’s been alive. Looting left him unable to see his nurses or celebrate his birthday. CBS 2’s Marissa Parra has his story.
The little guy who can’t even put on his own shoes on gets a full salute from Chicago police Thursday morning. Just weeks ago, the place that has become his second home was broken into by looters during the civil unrest that swept through Chicago.
It was hours before he was supposed to resume his stem cell treatment.
“He’s handled it really well. He’s a rock star. At times you wouldn’t even know he’s sick at all,” said Owen’s parents Brian Buell and Valerie Mitchell.
Owen was diagnosed with stage four neuroblastoma back in February. The cost and fear for Owen’s future alone were almost too much to bear. Some days, he’d be in so much pain from chemo he could barely keep his eyes open.
Then the pandemic hit weeks later.
“Struggling with COVID-19… that’s just made everything way worse,” Buell said.
During his chemo treatments, Owen’s parents had to decide who would have to wait outside. And then, weeks ago, while they were at the Ronald McDonald House that they’ve gotten to know as a second home waiting for the next treatment, his mother got a call from a nurse.
“Her exact words were ‘I don’t know if you’ve seen the news but they’re rioting outside Lurie Children’s and we’re gonna cancel all the appointments today,'” Mitchell said.
The glass doors destroyed outside of the housing for sick children. His treatment was put on hold, and so was a birthday celebration at his home in Joliet.
“I was crying. I was mad,” Mitchell said.
But now weeks later, Owen finally gets to start the six week journey of his next treatment. With some gifts and a salute from Chicago police to the little guy who has fought so hard this year to make it to two.
Some of the gifts weren’t just for Owen. Things like toiletries are for his parents who will be staying by his side over the next few weeks. Some of the funds that helped bring the gifts were raised by a seventh grade girl with thyroid cancer.
There’s a GoFundMe fundraiser set up for Owen and his family for anyone wanting to donate and help.