, Newburyport, MA

February 14, 2013

Seabrook boy, 3, succumbs to brain cancer

By Angeljean Chiaramida

---- — SEABROOK — His happy disposition and bright blue eyes lit up the lives of all who knew him for the short time he spent on this planet, but 3-year old Anthony Alan “Bubba” O’Dell lost his battle with cancer Tuesday, surrounded by those who loved him.

The son of Angela Smith of Seabrook and Anthony O’Dell Sr. of Hampton, Anthony was diagnosed last summer with atypical teratoid rhabdoid tumor, a rare form of brain cancer. The toddler and his family bravely fought the disease with surgery and months of chemotherapy at Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth in Lebanon, N.H. When those treatments ended, he underwent radiation at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston to try to kill the cancer.

After the completion of his final course of radiation in early December, family friend Kathy Gosslin said Anthony was smiling again and back to being the friendly, happy and lovable child he had been.

Although hopes were high, tests following radiation revealed the disease was progressing at a rapid rate.

“The MRI showed 10 more tumors, six in his spine and four more in his brain,” Gosselin said. “His doctors said they could try another double course of chemotherapy. But, even with that, they didn’t hold out much hope, and they said the treatments would make him very sick again.”

Considering their options, Gosselin said his family chose to allow Anthony to live out the rest of his life happy, unencumbered with the devastating effects he endured during his previous course of chemotherapy. Then they set out to make whatever time he had left the best possible. And they wanted him to share what remained of his life with everyone who loved him.

“They called the Make A Wish Foundation and Anthony’s wish to go to Disney World was granted, but it was decided that the trip would just be too much for him,” Gosselin said. “So, they asked for a Sponge Bob party, and Make A Wish granted that. With Anthony, everything was Sponge Bob, Sponge Bob, Sponge Bob.”

Gosslin said about 150 people — including a really big Sponge Bob — gathered with Anthony at the Parish Hall at Trinity United Church in Seabrook for the Sponge Bob party in January. There was even a surprise visit from members of the Order of Odd Fellows who gave the family a donation to help with expenses related to his care, Gosselin said.

The family has asked that any donations be sent in Anthony’s name to David’s House at Dartmouth Hitchcock Hospital. During the months he was treated at the hospital, the family members who stayed with him were put up at David’s House, Gosslin said.

“The people at David’s House were wonderful to the family,” she said. “They took good care of them.”

Anthony will be remembered during visiting hours tomorrow from 5 to 7 p.m. at Remick and Gendron Funeral Home in Hampton, with services immediately following.

“I think they’re going to release a bunch of Sponge Bob balloons in his memory right at the service,” Gosslin said. “I can’t believe he’s gone. I miss him already.”