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For Owen, an energetic 3-year-old, Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation provides vital treatment, support for the whole family

For 3-year-old Owen and his family, Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation provides vital support
For 3-year-old Owen and his family, Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation provides vital support 03:33

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation funds research and clinical trials that aim to give children safer treatments and hopefully cures.

The foundation also provides family support with the "Travel for Care Fund," which helps families get to much-needed treatment, and the "SuperSibs" program, which provides siblings of cancer patients the support they need.

Owen's family is benefitting from all three.

Owen is a typical 3-year-old. But 18 months ago, things were pretty different for this energetic boy. 

A few months after learning to walk, Owen was still unstable on his feet and making his mom "a little nervous," in her words. 

"One day he was eating lunch, and I was watching him and he could not use his left arm," Jennifer Smith, Owen's mom, said. "So we went to the ER and they did a brain CT scan and came and told us about a very large right-sided brain tumor."

"I think I had probably my very first panic attack. I was breathless, my fingers were numb. And it was just, you can't control your crying in that moment — and worry and dread," Smith said. 

Surgery removed the tumor, but Owen still needed proton therapy. He received radiation five days a week for six weeks to kill the leftover cancer cells. 

Owen was cancer-free — for three months. 

Then the cancer returned, and it had spread. 

The new diagnosis was leptomeningeal disease. Cancer cells were in the membranes around Owen's brain.

"There is no known cure for when his type of brain cancer spreads like that," Smith said. 

Now Owen is in a clinical trial funded by Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation.

The treatment seems to be working.

"We are very thankful for that funding to this clinical trial because we don't know what would be here if they weren't funding it. I don't know what it would look like without their support," Smith said. 

The family, who travels from Georgia to Oklahoma for treatment every four weeks, has also gotten support from Alex's "Travel for Care Fund." 

"We are immensely thankful because financially I don't know if we would have been able to sustain flying out monthly," Smith said. 

Their other son, Walker, is part of the foundation's "SuperSibs program."

"The SuperSibs, I think, is amazing because it puts something special for them. Gives them little gifts, books, these little journals. He got a cape to wear around to be a super sibling," Smith said. "We just got our first book and it was a lot about the emotions that a sibling might feel and kind of was a good gateway to talk about emotions through it."

CBS Philadelphia's 18th annual "Alex Scott: A Stand for Hope Telethon" is Thursday to raise money and awareness in the fight against childhood cancer and to help other kids just like Owen. 

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