Owen's Marathon Story
Owen’s marathon began on October 4, 2015, when he was diagnosed with Retinoblastoma (eye cancer) in both eyes, just 4 days after his 2nd birthday. Owen has gone through over 60 surgeries where he has gone under anesthesia, 6 months of intensive chemotherapy treatments at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), 3 rounds of radiation and a number of other treatments such as cryotherapy (freezing the tumor, essentially giving it frost bite). In his short life time he has made hundreds of trips to the doctor’s office.
During these 4 years, Owen and his family have made over 75 visits to Philadelphia for appointments at Wills Eye Hospital or CHOP. They have stayed overnight 53 times at the Philadelphia Ronald McDonald House (PRMH). The PRMH has become a second home to the Bonn Family. Throughout their stays, they have made so many friends who have become family! Just last year, Owen was the guest speaker at the PRMH gala and he got to award one of his doctors with an award! It is for these reasons that the CUMC run team and the Bonns chose to raise funds for PRMH.
Currently, Owen is in kindergarten, and can see about 3-5 feet in front of him. Despite his long battle with cancer, Owen is one of the happiest, most positive and funniest kids you will ever meet. His smile is infectious. Owen has no clue that his childhood is very different compared to the average kid. He thinks blood counts, eye drops, anesthesia and pain are all things people just go through in their daily lives.
Owen’s diagnosis completely turned the Bonn family’s world upside down, but they believe that a lot of good also came from it. They chose to be better people instead of bitter people. Whenever they get a chance to fundraise for a charity or to help a stranger, they step up because, along the way, that is what others have done for them. While the Bonn family, of course, wishes Owen didn’t have cancer, they are so thankful for all of the amazing people and organizations they have met along the way like the PRMH, Carlisle United Methodist Church and the greater Carlisle community.
Owen will always have cancer because tumors cannot be removed from eyes (Yet). We are hopeful that one day in Owen’s lifetime, there will be a medical breakthrough to replace eyes. He has had cataracts removed from both of his eyes. They continue to work on minimizing the scar tissue from all of the procedures so that Owen can see more clearly. His right eye functions as if he is looking through tissue paper. The family’s number one concern is that the cancer stay contained in the eye and not spread to other areas of the body. They also want the cancer to not be “active”. His mom, Marsha, describes it like this – “His tumors are like a campfire. We want to make sure that not only is the fire out, but all of the hot coals as well.” Owen will have more surgery (called a YAG) to work on his vision in October. He will have a follow up at CHOP and the Wills Eye Hospital in November for an MRI and an exam under anesthesia (EUA).
The Bonn family continues to look at the positives in life. In Owen’s own words, “Don’t worry. It will be okay.”
The Bonn family is very grateful for all the support from the pastors and members of Carlisle United Methodist Church and the CUMC run team. Owen and his family plan to attend the Harrisburg Marathon and Owen looks forward to running the last 20 yards with each of the participating runners as they cross the finish line.