The team at Zalutko Business Services supports various community efforts, from the Lions Club to Girl Scouts, but it chooses a single cause each year that serves as the central focus of all fundraising efforts. Meet Ben Austin, a bright and bubbly five-year-old boy with a passion for Legos, video games, super heroes, and his little sister Elle. His story is one of faith and determination, and it hits especially close to home with knowing the family personally.
At just three and a half years old, Ben was diagnosed with a 4″ mass on his left kidney, which medical testing confirmed as Stage III Multi-Focal Wilms’ Tumor. The medical team at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) immediately implemented an aggressive treatment plan to shrink the tumors so that he could undergo surgery of the affected areas, with additional chemotherapy and radiation planned for afterward.
Between July 2016 and January 2017, Ben courageously endured the removal of his left kidney, seven months of chemotherapy, and two weeks of radiation. It was a long road for the entire family, but Ben finally rang the gong in symbolic triumph over childhood cancer. Then the unthinkable happened as the Austin family returned home from their Make-A-Wish trip to Disney World only to learn that his first three month post-treatment scan came back abnormal. The cancer returned and spread to a nodule on his lungs.
“They were told that the treatment would consist of a series of three- to five-day inpatient stays for Ben to receive 7-8 hours of chemotherapy each day, followed by two weeks of recovery filled with doctor’s visits, blood work and transfusions of red blood cells and platelets. This cycle is expected to repeat continuously for 30 weeks. Then, that would be followed by eight to 10 days of radiation,” said Kathleen Carey of the Delaware County Daily Times in her feature How HEADstrong is a Blessing for Boy Battling Cancer.
There’s a reason he’s called Super Hero Benny, and it’s because the kid has remained a pillar of strength throughout this entire ordeal. Despite a persistent battle with cancer, hundreds of treatments, and subsequent sickness, you’d be hard pressed to come across an online post without his contagious smile or joyous laugh. Ben’s positive attitude and enthusiasm for life is an inspiration to all those following his story.
Parents Jason and Sara have been running on faith, family, and endurance to combat their son’s now Stage IV Multi-Focal Wilms’ Tumor, all the grief that accompanies such a diagnosis, and the ongoing financial strain of cancer treatment. Recently, the HEADstrong Foundation was an angel in time of true despair – providing nearby housing to eliminate countless hours of travel from their home in Easton to downtown Philadelphia. But medical bills and living expenses continue to be a burden as the family pursues any option to increase Ben’s odds. “His original prognosis was a 90 percent success rate but now that he’s relapsed, they can’t really give us a definitive prognosis,” said Sara. Godmother Nona worded it best: “A world with sick kids shouldn’t exist.” Until that day comes, recall the old-time saying “It takes a village.”
Zalutko Business Services will be hosting fundraising events throughout the year to help support the family. Check back for details and please consider donating to the cause.