Annual vigil remembers and honors children with cancer

Updated: Sep. 12, 2017 at 9:42 PM MST
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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Dozens of people gathered on the front lawn of Banner University Medical Center Tuesday night for an annual vigil organized the Candlelighters Childhood Cancer Foundation of Southern Arizona.

Among them was Owen and his mother, Reness Nasca-Vaughan.

"He gets into everything. He just climbs and crawls.He's just big and explorative," she said.

With big, curious eyes and fast feet, Owen looks like your typical one and a half-year-old. But what you can't see, is that he's already been on quite the journey.

"We're just lucky. We're very lucky," Nasca-Vaughan said.

Owen was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer of the immune system at just six weeks old.

When he was eight weeks old, Owen started a year of chemotherapy and high dose steroid treatments.

For Nasca-Vaughn, a first time mom, it was an unexpected journey.

"Any ideas that I had about what motherhood would be like have been completely altered and that's probably for the best," she said. "I think that it's better than I have ever imagined, it's scarier than I ever imagined. It's more fulfilling than I ever imagined."

Owen finished treatment in May and is now waiting for a six month check up.

The annual event brings together families and creates a sense of community for those fighting the same battle. Whether it's a child going through treatment, or losing one, in the case of Scott and Becky Belanger.

"We are a part of a very small club that no one wants to be a part of," Becky Belanger said. "But when you meet people who are also in this club you have this instant connection. We understand each other's stories and journeys. And to have somebody who gets it is everything."

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