One young Leinster supporter who will not be able to make Saturday’s contest is Marc Owens, a final year student at Belvedere College SJ…

Marc is fighting his own personal battle against a rare and very aggressive form of cancer at the MD Anderson Cancer Centre in Houston, Texas where he underwent life saving surgery in early February.

Supporters attending Saturday’s game will have an opportunity to express their solidarity with this brave young Dubliner who is currently undergoing an arduous programme of chemotherapy and radio therapy. Young colleagues and friends of Marc will be selling blue tribute wrist bands for €;3 around the grounds of the Aviva Stadium . Blue is the colour identified with sarcoma, the type of cancer with which Marc was diagnosed last September just as he was about to embark on his leaving cert year.

There were no warning signs: just an acute stomach ache and suddenly life for Marc and his family was turned upside down. Within a few short days, this fun loving, sports mad, happy-go-lucky boy had become a cancer patient with dismal prospects facing challenges and choices few young men are asked to confront in their lifetime.

Marc underwent 5 months of chemotherapy at the Mater Hospital before travelling to the Anderson Cancer Centre in Texas, the only place in the world where he could receive the surgery he required to survive.

An account written by his father, Brian (, of Marc’s battle with his rare and cruel disease makes harrowing reading.

There have been many complications, setbacks, and much pain and discomfort since his marathon 20 hour operation. But the good news is the surgery has been a success and with his parents, Brian and Edel by his side, Marc is now making steady progress. He expects to return home in a few weeks but he will continue to undergo treatments for the foreseeable future in both the Mater Hospital in Dublin and in Houston, Texas.

The Owens family and their brave boy have been dealt a cruel hand. But they have been awe-struck by the extraordinary generosity and support they have received from their many friends, their community and from Belvedere College SJ. All have rallied around them to lighten their load as they do all in their power for Marc.

A particular problem is the enormous cost of the treatment he is receiving in Texas, notwithstanding some financial assistance from the Health Service Executive. In March, a group of people came together to set up the Marc Owens Medical Fund to raise the money required to pay for Marc‘s treatment over the next three years. A sum of not less than €;1 million is targeted.

Fundraising events have already taken place. A particular success was the recent Panda Cup Rugby Day organised by the Belvedere College Junior Past Pupils Union which raised €;9,000.

By buying the blue wrist bands, Leinster fans will be making their contribution to this most deserving cause.

Just two weeks ago, Marc Owens celebrated his 18th birthday taking his first official step in his journey into adulthood. We must all hope that he is afforded every opportunity available to overcome his disease and fulfil the promise he so defiantly carries within him.

Should you wish to contribute towards Marc’s medical costs, log on to