Childhood Cancer

Austin Dunlap

Austin is funny, outgoing and enjoys life in the great outdoors. In the beautiful surroundings of his home in East Helena, Montana, Austin loves to go out fishing, hunting, snowboarding and waterskiing. Since the age of 4, he has been involved in the sports of wrestling and rodeo.
Always an active kid, it was worrying when Austin became tired, had frequent bloody noses and headaches. His doctor noticed that his liver and spleen were enlarged and suspected he might have mono. Austin was put on bed rest and given a clean bill of health a few months later. Within a month, he seemed ill again, and the whites of his eyes were yellow. Austin’s doctor referred him to an oncologist for a bone marrow test, and within a day he found out it was cancer.
Austin was treated for acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL Philadelphia positive) with three years of chemotherapy. Finally he was in remission. Just six months later, he got a bloody nose that would not stop. His oncologist sent him to the ER, where they were able to get control of his bloody nose and suggested follow up blood work. Within an hour came the news that Austin had relapsed.
The best treatment for Austin’s cancer was in Seattle, 600 miles away. But it was the middle of winter in Montana and Austin’s family had no money saved to travel.
After desperately searching for help, Austin’s mom came across information about Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation and ALSF’s Travel For Care Program. She got in touch and heard back right away. Meanwhile, Austin was still in the hospital, waiting for the day he would be healthy enough to travel.
Austin’s mom said, “ALSF was amazing - it was during Christmas and she [ALSF’s Travel For Care Program coordinator, Shirley] gave me her cell phone number to contact her as soon as we had a date. I was able to contact her and made flight and hotel plans over phone and email. She had the trip taken care of within days. She was amazing and helped take so much fear and stress out of us during that time.”
ALSF’s Travel For Care Program paid for two plane tickets to Seattle and a hotel there. Austin and his parents lived in Seattle for 5 months, while he had radiation chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant. He is now in remission again.
On February 21, 2015, Austin will have a 1 year check up with his doctors and with their approval, he can resume his favorite activities such as wrestling and the rodeo.  Until then, Austin cannot be amongst crowds or go to school, as he is on immune suppressants until December 2014 and can get sick very easily around big crowds.
Hero Quote: “I survived with a rope in hand.” Austin is a team roper and was able to rodeo half of his sophomore year of high school. He had a shirt made for State with this quote on it. 
Information provided by Valerie Dunlap, Austin’s Mom
September 2014