Tribute to Owen

Owen Tate Wheeler
March 20, 2000 – December 31, 2002

In June 2002, Owen Wheeler was a vibrant 2-year-old little boy – full of life, energy, and love. One month later, a golf ball sized tumor was detected in the cerebellum of Owen’s brain. This tumor was diagnosed as medulloblastoma, an extremely fast growing form of brain cancer. After a full resection of the tumor was performed, Owen and his family began a taxing ordeal of doctor and hospital visits, and chemotherapy. Each new day brought more uncertainties. Finally, in early November, there was some good news. Owen’s first MRI scan indicated no additional growths. But as is too often the case with medulloblastoma, in just a mere four weeks time, the cancer had spread to cover his entire brain. Radical chemotherapy was scheduled to begin immediately. During Owen’s second visit to the hospital for treatment, he unexpectedly slipped into a coma and passed away at 9:15 AM on New Years Eve 2002.

During the months of October and November 2002, Owen was feeling and doing well. You would of never known he had cancer except when you saw the 6 inch scar on the back of his head and the loss of his hair. Owen was visited in the hospital by many well-known people and was given the royal treatment. We were invited to many functions in the Atlanta area. I had learned about Tony’s Gang from another mother whose son also had the same disease. She had told me how wonderful and good Tony’s Gang was to children and their families dealing with a life threatening illness. I was trying to find out anything and everything I could about how to deal with this horrible illness that Owen and our family was living with. Tony’s Gang was a Godsend. They made the sun shine for us. I remember in early November, Tony’s Gang invited our family for a night with the Atlanta Thrashers hockey team. Owen was feeling great, and had a wonderful time. He was like a little star in the whole arena. I will always remember how Tony’s Gang also made sure that Owen’s older brother Grant, who was 5, got the same royal treatment as Owen. When you have a child who is sick, sometimes the siblings can be overlooked with all the attention on the child who is sick. Grant was always apart of Tony’s Gang. This made him feel special also. I remember one day near Christmas, a box arrived with goodies for the boys. On the outside, Grant saw that it was from Tony’s Gang. He told me, “I really like them, they are nice to me and my little brother”. It was a very moving moment for me.

Our little Owen is in heaven, and perfect, just like the day he was born. Thank you Tony’s Gang for all the wonderful memories I have of Owen during those last few months. One that I will have everyday, is when it gets cold or Grant and I just want to wrap up in a blanket, I take out one of the blankets you gave us and remember how this kept Owen warm and cozy on those chilly days.

Thank You!

Christie and Grant Wheeler
Marietta, Georgia