In January 2016, Austin Alonso was a student at the University of South Florida and in Air Force ROTC program. While in class he felt ill and drove himself to the hospital. He also texted his mother in Fort Myers telling her that he thinks he is having a stroke. Scared at this news, she immediately started driving to Tampa. Unfortunately, the diagnosis was much worse, Austin had a tumor on his brain stem.
Two years later, Austin has completed multiple surgeries in Tampa and at Duke University in North Carolina. Surgeons were able to remove part of the tumor and treatments at the proton laboratory at the University of Florida provided additional shrinkage to the tumor. The doctors are optimistic, believing the tumor is dying.
Austinís parents were able to remain with him during the surgeries at the Duke University Hospital. His CAP Family, including a CAP Chaplain and many members visited often. Captain Pat Sepe assisted Austinís mother, Jennifer, in setting up a GoFundMe account to help offset medical and travel expenses. Word of Austinís situation spread throughout the Civil Air Patrol community. Cards wishing him well came from all over the country.
Recovery has been a long, slow process, included five months at home in Fort Myers. His fiancť, Bailey, and his mother have been there all along the way.
Austin Alonso is currently a Senior Member-First Lieutenant with the General Chuck Yeager Cadet Squadron in Brandon, FL. He has returned to The University of South Florida as a senior, studying psychology. He currently participates in two internships helping young people, especially those with Autism, ADHD and other social disorders. He remains active with undergraduate research following those who have graduated from drug rehabilitation and evaluating their progress. Austin will graduate from USF in December 2018 and plans to pursue a Masterís degree in psychology at the University of North Carolina.
The man described in this story epitomizes strength and courage in dealing with a potentially lethal disease. Austin, we salute you and wish you well!
This article was produced from the Southeast Region Online News system. Electronic distribution is made possible through syndicated services. For more information, contact the Chief Editor Lt Col Judy Steele at JSteele@sercap.us.