Kids with Cancer

2021 Ambassador Rowan: A Smile that “Lit Up the World”

by St. Baldrick's Foundation
March 1, 2021

Spunky. Tiny dancer. Free and joyful in spirit. Music lover. Always smiling. Courageous cancer warrior.

This was Rowan. She will always be remembered…just like that.

Rowan in the pool

And this is her story etched on the hearts of those who were lucky enough to know her and love her.

There was something very special about Rowan. It was an undeniable spark in her spirit that belied how sick she really was or how painful the treatments were. Her mom, Mandy says Rowan had a smile that “lit up the world.” This little one simply refused to let cancer steal her joy.

Diagnosed with a rare form of acute myeloid leukemia known as AMKL when she was three years old, Rowan endured intense rounds of chemotherapy and total radiation therapy “one step at a time” and always with a smile. Doctors and nurses marveled at her resilience and her gracious acceptance even on the toughest days of her fight.

Rowan during treatment

After a successful cord blood transplant in January 2019, the family was able to enjoy precious time with Rowan until she relapsed in June. This time the cancer returned more aggressive and resistant to therapy. Determined to find a viable treatment, her parents relocated twice in search of a clinical trial that would save their daughter. Sadly, before one could be found, Rowan passed away at the age of four.

Yet in those short years, Rowan loved and lived life with irrepressible joy! She loved swimming, so trips to the beach or the lake were the best times. Her favorites were Krispy Kreme doughnuts with chocolate icing and sprinkles, cherry snow cones, princesses, horses and the color black. Rowan loved to dance, watch “Peppa Pig,” have tea parties, play with Barbies and dolls, and head banging to Pantera.

Rowan and her sister, Emory

But her very favorite thing in the whole world was to be with her big sister, Emory–they were inseparable. Especially when she was inpatient at the hospital, Rowan looked forward to Emory’s visits when they would laugh and play together for hours.

Rowan with her mom, dad, and sister

In Rowan’s honor, the Price family established a St. Baldrick’s Hero Fund called “RowOn 4 a Cure” to share her story and in doing so, raise awareness, hope and funds to improve treatments for relapsed AML and ultimately, find a cure for this disease.

Scott and Mandy are very grateful for support of the Hero Fund which has raised over $87,000 to help fund much needed research. Mandy says, “Thank you for honoring Rowan and our family’s fight; for recognizing that kids get cancer, too and helping us fund research to improve outcomes and give children a chance to live.”

Someone once said a smile is the key that fits the lock of everybody’s heart. Rowan somehow instinctively knew this to be true. For in her brief life, she left an indelible imprint on so many with just a smile.

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