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Billy Austin: Tackling Cancer How a Brain & Body Assessment at Cleveland Clinic Saved His Life

If William Dominic “Billy” Austin hadn’t heard about The Trust at an NFLPA meeting in Los Angeles, his life could be extremely different today.

Billy Austin during his time as a cornerback for the Indianapolis Colts.

“Prior to going to the Brain & Body Assessment at Cleveland Clinic, I had been searching for answers from a number of doctors in regard to not feeling like myself,” Austin explained. “I had a lot of lower back pain and was experiencing extreme fatigue from doing things I normally wouldn’t have any trouble doing.”

While completing the assessment, doctors at the Cleveland Clinic found a tumor on Billy’s shoulder. A biopsy needed to be completed in order to determine if the tumor was cancerous.

I couldn’t wrap my mind around it actually being cancer.

“The folks at Cleveland Clinic went above and beyond in terms of following up with me and making sure I followed through with getting the biopsy,” Austin commented. “Fortunately, I listened to them, but it was hard for me…I couldn’t wrap my mind around it actually being cancer. I’m grateful for the professionals at Cleveland Clinic going the extra mile…if that wouldn’t have happened, I probably would have just blown it off and who knows what that could have led to.”

Austin was diagnosed with stage III non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in March 2014 and went through six rounds of R-CHOP chemotherapy from May 2014 to January 2015.

You reflect with the understanding you may not make it.

“The diagnosis itself was one of those moments where the world stops. You reflect with the understanding you may not make it,” Austin recalled. “The doctors at Cleveland Clinic and the staff at The Trust were there with me every step of the way. I was pleasantly surprised to see the support went beyond just the initial exam. The Trust was a tremendous resource for my battle with cancer, I wouldn’t have made it through without them.”

The Trust was a tremendous resource for my battle with cancer, I wouldn’t have made it through it without them.

As if battling cancer wasn't enough, Austin had other hardships come his way.

“I ended up having to walk to my first round of chemotherapy, because my vehicle got towed the day before treatment,” he revealed. “It was two and a half miles each way and every step I took, I felt myself changing. There was a lot of anxiety and then there were moments of confidence and moments of fear.”

I ended up having to walk to my first round of chemotherapy...it was two and a half miles each way and every step I took, I felt myself changing.

After continually sitting beside people in different predicaments during his infusions, Austin felt it heavy on his heart to take some sort of action to assist where he could. Utilizing his experience on the field, his cancer journey, and what he learned working in the oil and gas business, he started a nonprofit, Tackles4Cancer. His organization brings awareness to transportation issues many patients face trying to get to their cancer treatments.

“I started doing research and found one out of five cancer patients will cancel or delay their treatment, because they don’t have a ride to get there. To think about having to walk to get to a treatment that has the ability to take you out because it’s so powerful, it was an eye-opening experience. I was one out of those five.”

To think about having to walk to get to a treatment that has the ability to take you out because it’s so powerful, it was an eye-opening experience. I was one out of those five.”

Continuing to use his platform to make an impact, Austin co-wrote a book, Supervan Tackles Cancer, a tale inspired by a true story of a six-year-old diagnosed with cancer at a flag football tryout. He hopes to inspire young readers they too have what it takes to tackle cancer.

Billy Austin and the book he co-wrote to motivate cancer patients to find their inner superhero.

Austin is now in remission and credits The Trust and their support during his cancer journey and beyond for helping him get to this point.

It takes a team to tackle cancer.

“Throughout my real life and death crisis…it was a team approach. One of Tackles4Cancer’s slogans is ‘It takes a team to tackle cancer,’ Austin stated. “I certainly could not have done it by myself…without the folks from The Trust.”

READY TO TACKLE YOUR HEALTH?

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