The morning of September 26, 2019, the Carr family celebrated what would have been Chad’s 9th birthday by eating his favorite ice cream, Blue Moon, for breakfast. 100 miles away, another family was just beginning their journey into the world of DIPG.

For the Owens family, September 26 began just like any other day. Chris Owens picked up his six-year-old son Aiden from school, and listened to him chatter happily about how much fun he had in gym class. Aiden was his usual energetic self as he came home and started jumping on the couch. Suddenly, he ran to the upstairs bathroom, calling out to Chris that he didn’t feel well. When Chris got upstairs, Aiden had already vomited and passed out in his sister’s arms. Chris immediately called his wife Amanda to meet them at the ER near their home in Saginaw, Michigan.

At first, Amanda was certain that whatever was wrong with her son had to do with his heart. Aiden was born with a congenital heart disease that led to two open-heart surgeries before he’d even had his first birthday. The doctors tested his heart right away, and assured Amanda and Chris that whatever was happening had nothing to do with his heart.

Panic began to creep in, and Amanda began to worry that Aiden’s symptoms could be related to a brain tumor. Amanda pleaded to have a CT scan performed, but the doctors wanted to first rule out other potential explanations for his condition. “It took 24 hours and multiple invasive tests to get the hospital to agree to do a CT. It took them about two minutes to see that Aiden had bleeding in his brain once the CT results came in,” said Amanda.

The hospital decided to send Aiden to Mott Children’s Hospital for further testing. As Amanda’s worst fears set in, a storm began to roll through. Instead of airlifting Aiden to Ann Arbor, the Mott Survival Flight’s crew came in and took the family by ambulance. 24 hours after arriving at Mott, the doctors told Amanda and Chris that Aiden had been diagnosed with a glioma (a type of tumor that occurs in the brain and spinal cord).

“This cancer is located directly in the center of Aiden’s brain and inside of his consciousness, so there is no way to operate and remove it,” said Amanda. Because Aiden’s tumor had already caused bleeding in his brain, a biopsy (which is sometimes performed to learn more about the tumor) would be too risky.

“We want Aiden to have the best life he can. Truly, we are relying mostly on prayer and believing for a miracle. If God wants Aiden to be here, then he will be,” said Amanda.

Aiden is currently living with his parents at the Ronald McDonald house while he completes a 6-week course of radiation at Mott Children’s Hospital. So far, he is showing no signs of side effects. The family is taking each day moment by moment, continuing to make special memories for Aiden and the rest of their family.

– Jennifer DeGregorio, Director of Communications, The ChadTough Foundation