Cleveland's Amy and Ryan Owenby, and their extended family, have learned a lot about life over the past two years.When the young couple's first child was born just over two years ago, little Garrett …
Cleveland's Amy and Ryan Owenby, and their extended family, have learned a lot about life over the past two years.
When the young couple's first child was born just over two years ago, little Garrett Owenby was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis.
"At first, it was very traumatic," said Amy Owenby in a visit with Garrett to the Cleveland Daily Banner offices Saturday. "We knew little about the disease, what to expect, or how to handle it."
Amy and Ryan, who both graduated from Bradley Central High School in 2007, were married in 2013, and Garrett was born on Dec. 18, 2015.
After the newborn was scanned, the young couple were informed that something was abnormal. They then contacted T.C. Thompson's Children's Hospital in Chattanooga, and a sweat test confirmed that their child was a victim of CF.
"At first they thought he might just be a carrier, but then the disease was confirmed ," Amy said. "It was completely unexpected." She said they didn't know where to turn.
The new parents were forced to rely on the medical professionals and the Cystic Fibrosis Clinic to educate them about the illness, what it was, what causes it, and how it is treated.
"Everyone was wonderful," Amy said. "We went to the clinic every week or two to learn more about the disease, how it happened, the medicine and treatment."
She said that once they learned more about the illness, they decided, "The game is on!"
They have not only progressed with care of they son for his first two years, but have also become deeply informed about the battle of CF awareness, and the annual Cystic Fibrosis Walk on the Lee University campus each spring.
This year's event, The Great Strides Walk and 65 Roses 5K Run is scheduled for Saturday, March 24.
Amy pointed out that her father-in-law, David Dailey, already knew considerable about CF when Garrett was diagnosed. "He is employed at Garden Plaza, and they have supported the CF Walk for several years."
She said her father-in-law also was acquainted with Lee University's Vanessa Hammonds, who is one of the coordinators of the walk each year, and has a grown son with CF.
Amy said she met with Hammonds, and Leigh Ellington of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, and both were extremely helpful to her.
She added that she also met another Cleveland mother, Kelly Meek, who has a 23-year-old daughter, Destany, with CF.
The mother of young Garrett emphasized that these meetings, some by chance and others by plan, have been a great inspiration in showing her that her son can live a somewhat normal life.
She said that for the first few weeks after Garrett's diagnosis, she kept saying to herself, "This is not fair!"
After that period of time, she said she and Ryan came to grips with the situation, and jointly decided that they would give their son the best care (and treatment) possible.
"In this life, we all have problems," she said. "Garrett's condition is something our entire family faces together."
Over these first two years, Amy said they have been extremely fortunate that Garrett has faced no serious medical challenges with the disease. Despite this, she said they have to be very careful with the possibility of germs and infections.
Amy had taken maternity leave from her work before her son's birth, and when Garrett's illness was confirmed, she and Ryan decided she would become a stay-at-home mom to focus on the boy's care.
She said this has been a positive, with an extra healthy, and active, youngster. Even young Garrett agreed in his visit to the Banner, saying, "I'm healthy!"
She added that there are other positives. "As a family, we've been blown away with the community's support," she said. "We've had people there for us."
In closing, Amy said she and Ryan, and the rest of her family, have embraced the situation, and look forward to family time with Garrett ... the the rest of Cleveland's CF family.
"It's our reality," she added. "We don't know anything different than this!"
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