Austin is a creative, fun-loving, and athletic eleven-year-old. He loves swimming, LEGOS, playing chess, the New York Giants, and Captain America. Austin’s infectious giggles bring smiles to the faces of anyone he is around.
But in 2017, when Austin was just eight, there were no smiles as his doctor delivered the four words no family wants to hear: Your child has cancer.
“The day Austin was diagnosed with cancer was a very rough day,” said Radley, Austin’s dad. “Even though we had some inkling that something serious was wrong, we were still not prepared for the messaging.” On July 31, 2017, Austin underwent a biopsy and the results confirmed his preliminary diagnosis: Osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer.
“The hardest part was understanding it all because there is so much to take in at first,” continued Radley. Austin began treatment mid-August 2017 and finished around mid-April 2018. His treatments included in-patient chemo where he stayed at the hospital for a week.
About halfway through treatment, Austin went into a seven-hour surgery to remove his tumor. During this surgery, his leg was reconstructed with a metal implant. After surgery, Austin had to attend regular physical therapy to regain his mobility. His one goal during this time was to spend Thanksgiving with his family, and he did! Austin is now finished with treatment and visits his doctors quarterly to monitor his progress and adjust his leg’s length as he continues to grow. All in all, Austin is doing wonderful.
Cancer has significantly changed Austin’s life. As a result of his treatment, Austin is not allowed to participate in any impact activities and is exempt from gym class. Initially, these changes were devastating for him because Austin loves to run around school with his friends. But Austin isn’t one to let a challenge hold him back. He swims competitively with his club swim team, and has learned to accept his restrictions and focus on trying new activities.
The Tom Coughlin Jay Fund Foundation has been an important member of Austin and his family’s team throughout Austin’s treatment and recovery. The foundation has been able to provide for his family financially, assisting with grocery bills and living expenses. But even more important to Austin and his family are the opportunities to spend time together. “For us, the Jay Fund means the ability to BE THERE for our son during his treatments and BE THERE as a family to celebrate our time together,” said Radley. “If the Jay Fund didn’t exist, it would have been more challenging for us to be there for Austin’s treatments and also meet the needs of our other children.”
If Austin and his family could say one thing to Mrs. McGillis, it would be a huge thank you for helping the Jay Fund come to life. “Jay’s memory and legacy lives on in the children and families the Jay Fund touches every day, and for this our family will be forever grateful.”