Utah man and daughter, 2, battle cancer at same time just three years after death of son, 3

A Utah family faces the unimaginable just years after losing their three-year-old son to cancer: Now the father and their two-year-old daughter are also battling cancer.

Nate Bowen, 41, and his wife Allison had already been through hell when their son Crosby died suddenly in 2018, just a month before his third birthday, due to what they later learned was a tumor in his brain.

But when their two-year-old daughter Annabelle was diagnosed with cancer last year, doctors began doing tests to find out why it happened to two toddlers in the same family, according to Today.

They soon discovered that Annabelle had a rare genetic condition called Li-Fraumeni Syndrome, which can increase cancer risk.

When genetic testing revealed Nate also had the disease, he began having regular cancer screenings – and in September doctors told him they had found a tumor in his brain.

Nate Bowen, 41, and his two-year-old daughter Annabelle are both battling cancer at the same time

Nate Bowen, 41, and his two-year-old daughter Annabelle are both battling cancer at the same time

Nate and Allison Bowen also have an eight-year-old son named Dalton and a four-year-old daughter named Tessa

Nate and Allison Bowen also have an eight-year-old son named Dalton and a four-year-old daughter named Tessa

In 2018, they tragically lost their son Crosby just a month before his third birthday

In 2018, they tragically lost their son Crosby just a month before his third birthday

The Bownes’ one-in-a-million story began in 2018, when their son Crosby – whom they described as a ‘dumb kid’ with a ‘big laugh’ – suddenly fell ill with fatigue and vomiting .

Their family doctor thought it was just a virus, but Crosby got progressively worse over the course of a week.

Although they said none of his symptoms told them he had a brain tumor, his condition worsened enough that they took him to the hospital.

“On the way to the hospital, he probably had a massive heart attack or stroke or something and stopped breathing. We didn’t know,” Bowen said. “But we could say it’s declining really fast.”

Doctors told the family that Crosby was brain dead and they quickly took him off life support.

“It was just very traumatic because it was so sudden,” Bowen said. “We had fantastic care and they brought in a child life specialist to help the kids say goodbye.”

Crosby fell ill with fatigue and vomiting and died just a week after his symptoms began

Crosby fell ill with fatigue and vomiting and died just a week after his symptoms began

The Bowens later learned their son's death was a brain tumor

The Bowens later learned their son’s death was a brain tumor

Last year, Annabelle had a lump on her leg and the Bowens learned she too had cancer.  She underwent surgery and started chemotherapy

Last year, Annabelle had a lump on her leg and the Bowens learned she too had cancer. She underwent surgery and started chemotherapy

Doctors performed genetic tests and found Annabelle had a genetic condition that increased her chances of getting cancer

Doctors performed genetic tests and found Annabelle had a genetic condition that increased her chances of getting cancer

They later learned through a CT scan that Crosby had grade 4 glioblastoma, a “very aggressive brain tumor.”

After some time of mourning, Nate, Allison and their other children – Dalton, now 8, and Tessa, now 4 – welcomed a new addition to their family: Annabelle.

Annabelle started having health issues in late 2020 when her parents noticed a lump on her leg.

In February 2021, she too was diagnosed with cancer and the MRI discovered rhabdomyosarcoma, a cancer of the soft tissues of the muscles.

She quickly underwent surgery and chemotherapy, which she will complete this month.

But doctors were curious as to why two of the Bowen children developed cancer and performed genetic testing.

The whole family was tested and Nate found he had the disease too, so he started regular screenings for different types of cancer.

The whole family was tested and Nate found he had the disease too, so he started regular screenings for different types of cancer.

Last fall, doctors discovered a brain tumor and operated to remove most of it.  However, due to the increased risk of cancer, he does not receive chemo.

Last fall, doctors discovered a brain tumor and operated to remove most of it. However, due to the increased risk of cancer, he does not receive chemo.

“My daughter with cancer led to my genetic testing, which led to cancer screenings and hopefully allowed us to catch her soon enough,” he said.

“When you have multiple young children with cancers, that genetic mutation is usually associated with that one,” Nate said.

They discovered that Annabelle had Li-Fraumeni syndrome, TP53 gene mutation. TP53 generally prevents tumor growth, but not mutation.

Although the mutation could occur spontaneously, it could also be genetic – so the rest of the family was tested.

Only Nate also had the disease, so he began getting regular cancer screenings. So in September, doctors discovered a large brain tumor, a grade 2 astrocytoma, during an MRI.

Since then, around 90% of the tumor has been removed, but while his daughter is undergoing chemotherapy, he is not, as it could cause her to develop even more cancer.

“We had to really sharpen our focus and say, ‘OK, I can get through today’ or ‘I can get through this week,'” Nate said.

“I’ve really grown to see my wife in a different light and I really respect the woman she is and her strength,” Nate added.

Although Nate and Annabelle will likely always face the threat of cancer — and regular testing and screening — the family is doing their best to stay positive, in part by turning to their faith.

“We had to really sharpen our focus and say, ‘OK, I can get through today’ or ‘I can get through this week,'” Nate said.

Additionally, he added, “My daughter with cancer led to my genetic testing, which led to cancer screenings and hopefully allowed us to catch her soon enough. It’s one of those bittersweet things where there’s harm coming out of it. But there is a good part.

He said his relationship with his wife has also grown stronger.

“I’ve really grown to see my wife in a different light and I really respect the woman she is and her strength. Our love for each other has grown through the hardships and we try to be as positive as possible.

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