Keep up with Armagh i

Armagh family’s heartbreak as ‘gentle giant’ Owen loses brave battle with rare cancer

"Our beautiful gentle Owen has left us and went to the angels above. The pain in our hearts is unbearable."

Owen McAfee from Armagh

An Armagh teenager battling a rare form of cancer has sadly passed away.

The family of Owen McAfee have been left heartbroken after their devastating loss.

Last September, Armagh I reported on initial fundraising efforts for the 18-year-old, who had been diagnosed with Stage 4 Synovial Sarcoma in July 2022, at the age of 17.

Owen had been having problems with his right hip for about 18 months – a reduced range of motion and weakness – which prompted his family to seek some medical help.

His mum, Glenda, said the issue was initially diagnosed, during the Covid pandemic, as hypermobility of the hip following a phone consultation with a doctor.

Glenda, speaking at the time, explained: “We began a private physiotherapy program to try and regain the strength in his hip. Over those next 18 months and some more clear X-rays and physiotherapy, there was no improvement in Owen’s symptoms. In June 2022, we made a private referral to see an orthopaedic surgeon who arranged an urgent MRI scan for Owen.

“We were not prepared for what he told us a few days later, that the large mass in his hip and thigh was likely to be a lymphoma or sarcoma. I don’t think any of us remember that car journey home, we were sick and numb and terrified. Owen was red-flagged through the NHS system, and three days later he was having a full body CT and having biopsies done.”

On July 18, 2022, Owen attended the appointment hoping for good news; praying for a benign growth but those hopes were soon dashed.

Owen underwent six cycles of chemotherapy with two drugs.

His post-treatment scan results on January 5, 2023 revealed his lung nodules had responded really well to the treatment and he had no evidence of new disease.

Unfortunately, routine scans at the beginning of June, and again in August, showed a recurrence of disease in his lungs.

The family had been began fundraising to cover the costs of cell immunotherapy and advance diagnostic tests not available on the NHS.

And the community rallied round to support the family in their efforts.

Sadly, however, the family have now confirmed the tragic news of Owen’s passing this Easter Sunday morning.

They said via social media: “It is with utter heartbreak that we have to share with you all.

“Our beautiful gentle Owen has left us and went to the angels above.

“The pain in our hearts is unbearable and we ask you keep his mummy Glenda, daddy Jimmy, Brother Jack ,Sister Olivia in your prayers. Both the Powell & McAfee families hearts are broke.

Owen was a gentle giant, with the quickest wit, Owen cared so deeply for his family & his wonderful group of friends. Constantly surprising his family with gifts, especially his mummy & sister! He was the life & soul of the party & would never miss an Armagh match!

“Thank you to absolutely every single person, & business locally & afar who donated to the Onward for Owen campaign.

“It’s because of each of you, it helped provide treatment for Owen, that was beyond our reach. It gave Owen more time with his family & friends, & for that we will be forever grateful.

“We want to thank the community of Armagh for rallying around our family in our time of need, this brought Owen & his family a great sense of comfort & pride to be part of our community.

“Thank you all. Please hold our Wonderful Owen in your hearts & prayers.

“Onward for Owen forever.

Forever young. Funeral details to follow.

“Owen’s family x.”

Sign Up To Our Newsletter

Most read today

More in Armagh