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Wednesday, July 17, 2019

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Austin’s heroes – Blood drive and lunch fundraiser for a child’s fight against cancer

Austin’s heroes – Blood drive and lunch fundraiser for a child’s fight against cancer

On March 12 of this year, one bayou family received word no one would ever want to hear, especially a parent concerning their child. After weeks of concern over what the Abadie family believed to be a virus their ten-year-old son, Austin received a diagnosis of T-Cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia or ALL, most commonly known as a “childhood” cancer.

This type of cancer affects the blood and bone marrow. The disease requires aggressive chemotherapy, which will last upward of three years and blood transfusions to replace deficiencies in the bloodstream when blood counts are low.

Understandably, Paige and Larry Abadie, Austin’s parents, and brothers Justin age 22 and Jerin age 17, are devastated when they receive the distressing news. Older brother Justin who had previously signed up to go into the Marines felt horrible that he had to leave right at the time Austin fell ill.

Paige said, "Justin felt really bad about leaving, and Jerin felt terrible for Austin having to go through all that he did during his first hospital stay. They both hated seeing him that way.”

Austin, who ordinarily loves shooting his BB gun, fishing, and swimming, Legos, riding his bike, and playing with friends, was not himself for some time before the diagnosis.

Paige explained, “He had not been feeling well for about three weeks. He would complain of sudden headaches from time to time. Austin also started saying that he felt tired and he did not want to eat. Just not wanting to eat should have been a sign because he had a great appetite. When he would eat, he would vomit and turn pale, so we thought it could have been a virus, but after Austin vomited, he felt good. It was very strange because it was not all the time. Then it got to the point he could not keep anything at all down. We noticed bruising on his body and red blotches on his forehead. I took him to the doctor thinking it was something simple and just a few hours later he was airlifted to Children's Hospital to later find out he has T-Cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. When we arrived at the hospital, his blood count numbers were very bad. Some numbers were life-threatening."

The American Cancer Society states, “Most chemotherapy drugs affect cells in the bone marrow. This commonly leads to low blood cell counts, and can sometimes put a person at risk for life-threatening infections or bleeding.”

For this very reason, it is imperative Austin have transfusions when his blood counts are compromised. This is where the community comes in. Blood donors are vital to Austin's treatment regime, and the family is praying that Lafourche residents will be willing to donate at an upcoming fundraiser.

“Austin will be treated aggressively with several different chemo medications … some given through his central line/port and some injected in his spine during spinal taps. This entire process will take a total of three and a half years. We will spend the first three weeks in the hospital. Then we will be going back and forth to the hospital weekly for chemo, spinal taps, and bone marrow tests. We are now three weeks into his treatments and he has already had to be given six units of blood and two units of platelets,” Paige stated.

Through it all, Austin’s high spirit has not faltered.

“No matter what happened to Austin in his life, and he has been through a lot, he is always smiling. He is always happy and has the kind of smile that lights up a room. From day one, Austin always has a great spirit about all of it. He told me he was not worried about his blood stuff because he knew God’s got this. I feel a peace about it also,” said Paige.

Abadie went on to say, “I just want to thank Ms. Andree Leblanc, FNP-C at Lady of the Sea for ordering the blood work on Austin. I know she saved his life. I would like to thank the staff at Lady of the Sea hospital and everyone at Children’s Hospital for everything they have done for Austin and our family. We were treated like family. Everyone there is so amazing.”

There is a long road ahead of the Abadie family due to the nature of the disease. Treatment and blood transfusions are costly. To defray these costs, the family and members of the community are putting together a blood drive and plate lunch fundraiser.

Lunch will consist of jambalaya, fried fish, and dessert for a cost of $10 a plate. The blood drive will take place in conjunction with the lunch fundraiser at the Community Bible Church located at 14757 E. Main Street in Cut Off on Saturday, April 21 from noon to 5 p.m.

If you would like to pre-order food, contact Austin’s aunt, Heather Abadie at 985-665-7784 or Advanced sign-ups are needed for those who want to donate blood.

For more information, to volunteer or sign up to give blood, please contact Heather at the number/email above or Church Secretary Lisa Plaisance at 985-632-3077.