Boy battling cancer pays it forward to other patients

Melissa Eich started a TikTok account last year to capture the positives of her son Owen’s battle with cancer. It became a way for them to give back to others.

VANCOUVER, Wash. – Mother Melissa Eich has many ways to describe her son Owen.

“I’d say you’re stupid, and adventurous, and very smart,” she said, smiling at him.

He is energetic and creative, but the 4-year-old is also tough. Last year, just after his third birthday, things got a little complicated.

“It happened pretty quickly, within a two-month period,” Melissa said.

Owen developed troubling symptoms that progressed rapidly. After virtual doctor visits and some in-person appointments, it was finally a trip to the emergency room that revealed the diagnosis of rhabdomyosarcoma, a cancer of soft or connective tissue or bone.

Melissa said Owen has remained incredibly positive throughout his journey, and it shows on their TikTok page @melguyveringmom, started by mom to document the good times and other summer adventures during COVID.

“There was a video I made where we finally had to shave his hair off, and it went viral,” Melissa said.

Owen and his dad Matt each shave their heads in the clip. It has more than 1.5 million views. The account now has more than 64,000 followers and 2.3 million likes. Make no mistake, it’s not about fame. Melissa hopes other families facing the same struggle will be encouraged.

“You don’t want to see yourself in it. But once you’re in it, you’re thankful for the people you meet,” says Eich of the supportive community she’s found since Owen’s diagnosis.

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Through TikTok, she met another mother who worked for the Resilience Gives organization. Since 2016, they’ve donated more than $145,000 to childhood cancer research and 12,000 pairs of… socks. It is part of a campaign called Socks With Stories: Paying it Forward Initiative.

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“You don’t realize how much comfort that is until it’s there,” Melissa said. “They’re like the perfect thickness and they have great grips on the bottom to keep you from slipping in the hospital.”

In November, Owen was one of 40 pediatric cancer patients across the country who donated a total of more than 4,000 socks to their local children’s hospital. Owen gave 82 pairs of socks and six coats to Portland’s Doernbecher Children’s Hospital.

As for Owen’s cancer battle, he had clear scans in August and again just before Thanksgiving, a promising move. Melissa wants others walking this path to seek support and contact.

“It’s kind of learning when you get to experience,” she said. “So may have other people who have experienced it. Even if it’s the same cancer, no case is the same, but having their stories is really helpful.”

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