Reflections on Austen's Diagnosis, Three Years Later

3 years. 1,095 days. 36 months. That is how long it has been since our then four-year-old was officially diagnosed with cancer. Our world turned upside down and Austen began a chapter in her life that would become an important part of her story. Less than a month later she would undergo a hysterectomy and a few weeks after that, six months of chemotherapy. The fear and anxiety of that time in our lives can feel like a dream but then I close my eyes and it all comes flooding back.

But, on this day, the anniversary of her diagnosis, I could not be happier to report that Austen is doing very well. She is a healthy, bright girl excited about turning 8 in a couple of weeks. But she has experienced things that no second grader should have to and will always have the mental and physical scars to prove it.

2020 has been a year for the books. A book most of us would probably like to burn. Like so many other charities and businesses, Austen’s Army Foundation has taken a hit. Not being able to hold our biggest in-person event this year hurt our fundraising efforts. But even though the rest of the world seemed to grind to a halt, childhood cancer did not pause for the pandemic. In this year, there are too many families who had to add a rhabdo diagnosis to the list of things gone wrong in 2020.

So, as this year begins to finally, thankfully, come to a close, I humbly ask that you consider including Austen’s Army Foundation in your year-end giving plans if you are able. Your generosity is what allows us to continue supporting vital research into rhabdomyosarcoma; research that we hope will one day allow more patients to survive and thrive like Austen.

We have been incredibly grateful to donate nearly $50,000 to medical research projects since we were founded in 2018. And while we may not be able to contribute as much as we had hoped in 2020, we will continue to try to raise funds this year and into the future to make a difference in the lives of those with this disease.

You can donate online at or by check to 120 Dunlavin Drive, Acworth GA 30102.