In October 2006 Cole Owens’ mother noticed a lump in her seemingly healthy five year-old’s abdomen. Laura Owens wasn’t overly concerned, because Cole was active and athletic, with a passion and talent for soccer. But what Laura felt was a desmoplastic small round cell tumor (DSRCT), a rare and deadly childhood cancer. Soon Cole’s oncologist delivered the grim prognosis: based on all known cases of DSRCT, Cole had less than a 15 percent chance of surviving to enter the fourth grade.
Cole’s courage and determination on the soccer field would have to be re-directed to a new fight - beating his cancer. He (and his mother) began an almost unimaginable six year battle against his disease:
Twice Cole’s doctors declared his tumors inoperable. But he fought on, overcoming countless insults and injuries to his young body. And so far, Cole has defied the odds.
Cole Owens celebrated the sixth anniversary of his DSRCT diagnosis on October 30, 2012, along with scientists working on his cancer at CHRISTUS Stehlin Foundation. He is one of fewer than twenty DSRCT patients who have survived beyond five years. Ever. And though he remains in treatment for tumors in his liver that surgeons can’t reach, Cole is back playing soccer.
He’s considering becoming a scientist.
Virtually no research has been done to find and fight the causes of this devastating childhood disease. Few oncologists have experience with DSRCT, so misdiagnosis is common. (For the first six months of Cole’s therapy, his doctors thought they were treating a different cancer.) Though aggressive surgery is a major determinant in prolonging patient survival, no truly effective treatment exists. But there is hope.
CHRISTUS Stehlin Foundation is creating the first tissue culture cell lines of DSRCT and transplanting human DSRC tumors into mice for testing. The goals of this three year, $971,000 project are to study the biological behavior of DSRCT outside the patient and to discover and test new drugs and other treatments. As new cell lines are established, the Foundation will make them available to other cancer researchers worldwide. >>Read more
If you would like an update on Cole Owens’ progress or to send him your best wishes, please visit his CaringBridge website.
If you or a family member are affected by DSRCT and are interested in participating in the Foundation’s research, or you have questions about its tumor collection program, please contact Doug Coil, Deputy Laboratory Supervisor, 713-659-1336.
“Whether living or dying, all of Stehlin’s patients present to him the terrible emotional burdens of the disease. He is an extraordinary doctor – he seeks the burdens. He charges himself like a battery with the suffering and hope and trust of everyone around him, and then, respectful of how he gets his power, gives it out again in bursts of caring.”
CHRISTUS Stehlin Foundation for Cancer Research will join CHRISTUS St. Catherine and CHRISTUS St. John in a new partnership with Houston Methodist.
There are currently 13.7 million cancer survivors in the United States and the number is expected to rise by 31 percent to 18 million by 2022, according to a new report. >> Click article title for more.