Owen Schlosser’s death spurs friends, fam­ily to live bet­ter lives

Edmonton Journal - - CITY PLUS - LINDA HOANG J o u r n a l S t a f f Wr i t e r ED­MON­TON

The can­cer death of 21-year-old ath­lete William Owen Schlosser from melanoma has been life al­ter­ing for peo­ple who knew him.

“There’s been changes in ev­ery sin­gle per­son within our group of friends,” said Tom Flem­ing, Owen’s best friend.

“I think peo­ple feel that the way to hon­our him now is to live a bet­ter life. To not lose their tem­per as much or to stop smok­ing or eat­ing junk food ev­ery day.”

Flem­ing said Owen hated to see peo­ple treat their bodies poorly, es­pe­cially smokers.

So it was sur­pris­ing when Owen, de­scribed by his sis­ter Eve­lyn as “ob­sessed with be­ing healthy and hav­ing a good diet,” was di­ag­nosed with melanoma that had spread through his body.

“He was shocked. Every­one was com­pletely shocked,” Eve­lyn said.

He died June 2, four months af­ter the di­ag­no­sis of the most deadly form of skin can­cer.

“If noth­ing else, it just shows you that this can hap­pen and peo­ple re­ally just need to en­joy ev­ery day of life be­cause you re­ally don’t know what your life will hold,” Eve­lyn said.

Owen’s fam­ily, soc­cer coach, and close friends gath­ered in Eve­lyn’s liv- ing room last week to share mem­o­ries.

“When Owen was di­ag­nosed, he said to me, ‘This is only a mi­nor speed bump in my life. I’m go­ing to get through it. I’m go­ing to get through the treat­ment and I’m go­ing to move on with my life,’ ” his sis­ter Caro­line said.

Be­fore Owen was di­ag­nosed, he talked about want­ing a change in his life, hop­ing a new chal­lenge or ad­ven­ture would come his way.

When told he had can­cer, “he re­ally just saw it as some­thing be­ing thrown his way that he would over­come,” Eve­lyn said.

Owen, a star ath­lete who ran crosscoun­try and played soc­cer and ten­nis re­li­giously, was al­ways smil­ing, his friends and fam­ily said. He loved to chal­lenge him­self. “He just prac­tised all the time. He was al­ways run­ning around with the ball,” Caro­line said.

“I re­ally don’t think there was ever a day where he wasn’t play­ing soc­cer or ten­nis, or go­ing for a work­out,” Eve­lyn said.

“And he never missed prac­tice,” said Neil Maciver, Owen’s long­time soc­cer coach.

Af­ter grad­u­at­ing from Strath­cona High School, Owen spent two years study­ing phys­i­cal ed­u­ca­tion at the Uni­ver­sity of Al­berta be­fore en­rolling in in­dus­trial de­sign.

Friend Ryan John­son re­mem­bered when Owen ex­cit­edly took him to the uni­ver­sity de­sign lab to show him a 3-D printer.

“He thought it was the coolest thing ever,” John­son said, smil­ing.

Eve­lyn said her brother was “pas­sion­ate about de­sign … He would spend hours metic­u­lously draw­ing and re-draw­ing one small shape so that it would be flaw­less.”

His sis­ter Jane re­mem­bered the movie nights she of­ten had with Owen, adding he would of­ten rent movies us­ing her ac­count and for­get to re­turn them.

“I’d get calls and they’d be like, ‘Jane you have four movies out.’ ” Every­one in the room laughed.

Colin re­called how he felt comfortable go­ing into Grade 10 be­cause be­ing the brother of Owen, who was in Grade 12 at the time, made Colin cool and known by as­so­ci­a­tion.

Owen’s broth­ers and sis­ters de­scribe his child­hood as ad­ven­tur­ous and ex­cit­ing, es­pe­cially given how many kids were in the fam­ily.

“We joked that we al­ready had our own team to play any­thing be­cause we could just di­vide into three and three,” Eve­lyn said.

She said when Owen was di­ag­nosed with can­cer, peo­ple in his Bel­gravia-McKer­nan com­mu­nity came out to sup­port him. “Every­one in the com­mu­nity wanted to fundraise to help pay for his treat­ments.”

Two fundrais­ing events organized for Owen, “Ral­ly­ing Around Owen” and “Spring Slam Schlos­s­apalooza,” both helped raised sig­nif­i­cant amounts of money that were put to­ward his ex­per­i­men­tal can­cer treat­ment in Florida.

Count­less peo­ple came to visit Owen when he was in the hospi­tal, from for­mer teach­ers to the moth­ers of kids he coached in ten­nis.

“We were re­ally in­spired by him; by his strength,” said his sis­ter MaryPat.

SUP­PLIED

Owen Schlosser in Oc­to­ber 2008, at age 21.

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