Austin H.

Austin H.

Austin was not even 3 years old when he started acting differently, not eating well, crying a lot, sleeping more...we chalked it up to recent changes in his routine, teething, and stress in the family with the passing of my grandmother.

He developed an infection inside of his nose and took antibiotics and started to get back to normal, but not quite. We went on a family vacation with my extended family, and he was tired and a bit pale but had no fever or anything else.

The day after we arrived at the destination, we noticed that he was just not doing well. He was even paler and wouldn't walk. Thinking that the infection hadn't been cleared up, we headed to the nearest urgent care. While there, he deteriorated and basically stopped talking, watching us with big eyes. The urgent care doctor panicked when she saw him and sent us right to the ER.

The ER ran many tests and then discovered that his level of oxygen in his blood was extremely dangerously low--they hadn't seen anyone alive with it so low. So, Austin and I won a ride in a helicopter to the nearest hospital with an ICU while he got his first blood transfusion in the air.

That first hospital couldn't find anything just in his blood and got him stable enough to drive home with no stops to spend a few days in our local children's hospital for further testing to see if he needed treatment. Everyone suspected leukemia, but it wasn't showing up in his blood. He got several transfusions in that week between the two hospitals and had many tests run. They tested his bone marrow, and it was also negative for leukemia. We went home.

Many weeks of staying away from people and germs while checking labs and running tests for all sorts of viruses, genetic issues, etc. began. Everything was negative. Eventually his blood counts returned to normal levels, without any transfusions after that first week. The oncologist was ready to discharge him from returning to see her. We made one more appointment just to be sure. Austin returned to daycare, and I went back to work after 6 weeks of being at home.

A week before the appointment, some symptoms I had been warned about started showing up. Back to the oncologist we went. Within 4 days, we had a diagnosis of acute lymphoblastic leukemia and ended up in the hospital for 6 weeks with lots of complications with the first round of treatment.

Austin got infection after infection and came very close to losing his leg to a potentially fatal fungal infection. He had 3 surgeries on his right thigh to remove the fungus and the dead tissue that was being eaten. He had stitches in it for 3 months afterwards. He then had to learn to walk again at 3 years of age.

Now, at 3 years and 4 months from when the whole nightmare started, Austin is in his Kindergarten year--third year in school--and RUNNING EVERY DAY! He runs any chance he gets. He has wanted to play soccer forever, but it was not possible with the intense monthly treatments he has been going through for the last 2.5 years...the first year was the most intense but monthly IV chemotherapy and steroids along with daily chemotherapy made a sport seem like too much.

Well earlier this year, a study came out that made it possible to reduce the frequency of the IV chemo and steroids and his oncologist gave him the green light to get playing soccer! He's loving every minute and showing off his natural talent!! Thanks to the support of KICKCancER, he is now playing soccer every week and forgetting about the huge challenges he has overcome.

Back to blog