In 2009, Akron Children’s Hospital featured teen athlete Austin Weaver of Rootstown, Ohio, in one of its documentary-style TV commercials. The hospital’s Showers Family Center for Childhood Cancer and Blood Disorders had diagnosed then 13-year-old Austin with a severe type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL), a cancer of the lymphatic system, which requires high doses of chemotherapy. As a side effect, the medicine also destroys bone marrow, which patients need to produce blood, fight illnesses and survive. Fortunately his bone marrow was healthy enough to be used in an autologous bone marrow transplant. In the procedure, doctors removed and froze healthy stem cells from his bone marrow, administered high-dose chemo, and then transplanted stored, healthy cells to rescue him from the harmful side effects.
Austin has been in remission since the completion of his chemotherapy over a year ago, although he is still followed by Akron Children’s cancer specialists. Austin returned to Rootstown High School this year and to the sports he loves, playing on the school’s football and basketball teams. Now 16, he dreams of college and a pro sports career, but lately, he’s also interested in carpentry and electronics. His promising prognosis means that a life of possibilities is now ahead of him.