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Owen Blanton loves dinosaurs and playing with his brothers. He's a funny, strong-willed 5-year-old who knows what he wants. Meeting him, you'd never know what he's been through the last year during his fight against childhood cancer.

starting their journey

In June 2021, Owen's parents, Brittney and Levi noticed that Owen had really swollen lymphnodes. They took him to an urgent care, where he was diagnosed with strep throat and prescribed antibiotics. After going through a couple rounds of antibiotics, the swelling still wasn't going down and they were referred to ENT (ears, nose and throat doctor). They suspected Owen had an abscess on his tonsil, and wanted him to come back in two weeks for further evaluation.

"Owen's swelling became so out of hand that he wasn't breathing well and was snoring, so we didn't even make it that long," Brittney remembers. "We were back at ENT in a week, and were referred to hematology/oncology. Owen was admitted for eight days."

finding a diagnosis

When they arrived in hem/onc, they met the attending doctor, Rachael Courtney, DO. Over the next couple of days, Dr. Courtney ran a few different tests to determine what was going on. The results found that Owen had t-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (t-cell ALL).

Owen was transferred to Jordan Wright, MD, for his ongoing care. Dr. Wright started Owen on chemotherapy. For the first ten months, it was "very intense," Brittney remembered. It started with a 28-day induction process, where Owen received high doses of chemo and steroids. That treatment worked to help reduce the leukemia in Owen’s body, so they continued with those intense treatments.

On December 15, 2021, the Blantons got the call: Owen’s leukemia was no longer detected and he made remission! To give Owen the best chance at being cured, they had to continue the treatments for a while longer.

entering maintenance and remission

In May 2022, nearly a year after the swelling first started about a year of intense treatments, Owen entered his maintenance phase. Owen still takes a daily chemotherapy, and goes in for monthly check ups and infusions. Every three months, he has another targeted chemotherapy specifically for t-cell leukemia. Owen will continue to have these three treatments until December 2024.

"All of Owen's doctors and nurses have been the absolute best. They have constantly given us reassurance and been totally honest with us. I can't picture anyone else treating our child," Brittney said.

back to school, celebrating

Owen is going back to school celebrating achieving two important milestones: starting kindergarten with his twin brother, and being in remission! While they still have a long journey in front of them, Owen's family will continue to keep their faith, trust their care team, and take it one day at a time.