'We fought it once – we'll fight it again'

Owen Jenkinson at his Whiston home with his parents Andrea and Bill - photo by Kerrie BeddowsOwen Jenkinson at his Whiston home with his parents Andrea and Bill - photo by Kerrie Beddows
Owen Jenkinson at his Whiston home with his parents Andrea and Bill - photo by Kerrie Beddows
“WE fight on.”

Those are the words of the devastated family of an inspirational teen who has been diagnosed with a rare form of bone cancer for a second time.

And the proud parents of Owen Jenkinson – Bill and Andrea – have also described their brave son's ordeal and the reaction to it from organisations both local and national as “terrible and wonderful at the same time”.

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Dad Bill (49) said: “It has been the worst time of our lives.

“But the support we have received from organisations such as Rotherham United Football Club, our local church, Young Lives Versus Cancer, and the Make A Wish foundation – not to mention Owen's Poggy teammates (local junior side AFC Pogmoor) and PACT in Sheffield – has been wonderful.

“It has really helped to give Owen a lift – from his teammates shaving their heads in solidarity when he began chemo again this year to being able to go up on stage at the Royal Albert Hall with The Courteeners thanks to support from Teenage Cancer Trust (following his first diagnosis).”

Owen (now 15) was a fit and healthy teenager when he was first diagnosed in Easter 2022 after noticed a “pulse-like” pain in his leg.

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Mum Andrea (52) said: “Owen has always been really sporty and had done the Parkrun as he did every Saturday when the pain started on the Sunday.

“At first we thought it was growing pains or a pulled muscle from football but it became quite persistent.”

X-rays, an MRI scan and tests, however, revealed the devastating cause was Ewing’s Sarcoma – a rare cancer that appears in the bones or in the soft tissue around them.

“We couldn't believe it,” said Andrea. “As parents we couldn't understand why – Owen was so fit and still playing football, no loss of appetite. It made no sense at all.”

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“Ewing's Sarcoma is a very rare cancer and there just isn't enough research into it.”

Owen, a Saint Bernard's Catholic High School pupil, said: “After another MRI scan they found more tumours – five in total.

“It had gone from my left femur to my left shin, pelvis, hips, and both of my lungs.”

Owen, who is one of six siblings ranging in age from 12 to 27, endured numerous rounds of chemotherapy and radiotherapy between May and December 2022.

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“My last one was on Christmas Eve so it was a good Christmas Day,” he said.

“We hired our local village hall, and I spent the day partying with my brother, sisters, and cousins.”

By the following February, Owen and his relatives received the good news that all his tumour sites were inactive.

The life-long Millers fan continued with the new hobbies he had discovered which provided light exercise while he was undergoing treatment and using crutches.

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“Instead of dwelling on what he couldn't do, we made it positive,” said Bill. “We started to look at what Owen could do, and he started to play pool and golf.

“After his first pool game he said: 'I just focused totally on that and it was great – I didn't think about cancer for the last hour’.”

He continued with monthly chest x-ray checks every three months – but tragically, in February this year the family learned Owen’s cancer had returned and his treatment has since restarted.

“I just mentally accepted it myself,” he said.

“Some days are better than others but you've just got to stay motivated.

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“There's no point just crying or getting cross – I prefer to stay positive.”

He describes his journey as: “Like the ocean – sometimes it's calm and sometimes it's rough.”

Adds dad Bill: “Getting the re-diagnosis was gut-wrenching.

“But Owen wants treatment and he wants to fight.

“We fought it once – we'll fight it again.

“We fight on.”

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