In February of 2018, Austin was diagnosed with an aggressive form of stage IV stomach cancer.
3 months prior to his diagnosis, Austin began to experience mild abdominal pain. After being prescribed an antibiotic with no relief, he continued to perform his everyday responsibilities as a husband, father, and employee hoping the pain would eventually subside.
During this time, Austin continued to donate blood which led him to believe it was nothing serious. Weeks went by, and it became more painful and more difficult to eat. Austin slept on the bathroom floor in pain for several nights and Andrea decided it was time to go the ER.
A CT scan and blood work led us to believe it was just irritable bowel syndrome, which he had never had before. We returned to the ER again a few nights later, and again the scans and labs did not indicate any illness. A follow-up was scheduled with a GI doctor to perform an EGD, but that appointment was not for several more weeks.
Austin couldn’t eat for several days, continued to sleep on the bathroom floor, but continued to fulfill his responsibilities without complaining.
The EGD found several tumors in Austin’s stomach which had not shown up on either scan in the ER. Further testing was done as well as a follow-up EUS procedure to examine the tumor in more detail.
The results eventually led Austin and his family to the University of Kansas Health System, where Andrea received the prognosis that Austin would need a miracle to save his life.
Since 2018, Austin has received over 75 infusions of immunotherapy and 6 months of chemotherapy. He has undergone 9 surgeries, with his most successful procedure in 2020 during an operation called the “HIPEC” procedure involving the full removal of his stomach with cytoreductive surgery.
Faced with physical illness, depression, and anxiety, Austin and Andrea made the choice to endure through difficulty while raising their 4 young children. They were reminded daily of the vows they made to love each other in sickness and in health.
Life would never be the same
With the support of their friends, family, and community, Austin and Andrea were able to focus their energy on their fight against cancer. More importantly, their faith in God and the amazing medical team at KU gave Austin the miracle he so desperately needed.
With many peaks and valleys along the way, Austin and his army of supporters have been celebrating no evidence of disease for over 2 years.
Austin and Andrea promised each other at the beginning of their cancer journey that they would turn their suffering into a blessing for themselves and for other local families who may be facing the unfortunate reality of a cancer diagnosis.
During this journey, it meant more to Austin if his wife and children were supported rather than having the focus on him.
The Mission 212 Foundation was formed in hopes that one day Austin and Andrea would be able to fulfill their promise and serve other families the way their community served them.
Together with the help of “Austin’s Army”, Austin and Andrea hope to make a difference and create more miracles for young families that need them.