Med student overcomes brain surgery, continues chasing dream

The Test of a Lifetime

SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - An LSU Health medical student learned that sometimes life has a funny way of throwing you a curve ball when trying to make your dreams come true.

For as long as he can remember second year medical student Austin Cannon has dreamed of one day becoming a doctor. He’d be the first an his family, and his mom and dad couldn’t be happier.

However, on August 12, 2018, all his carefully laid plains suddenly took an unexpected turn.

While waiting in line for the ATM, Austin started experiencing the symptoms of a stroke.

“I knew something was wrong. I used my car’s Bluetooth to call a friend whose house I had just left," Austin said. "And then I went incoherent on the phone. He knew something was going on and sped out to come find me.”

He was rushed to a Shreveport hospital where he suffered another seizure. A brain scan showed a large mass in the right parietal lobe of his brain had hemorrhaged.

Doctors then determined that the best thing to do in Austin’s case would be to remove the mass by having brain surgery.

The surgery was a success. He spent time with his parents in New Orleans recovering. He couldn't walk or use the restroom without assistance. His eyesight was also effected, which destroyed much of his peripheral vision. There is no cure for this.

During his recovery, he needed physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech language therapy and opthamology. Austin was also to undergo six weeks of radiation therapy and 12 month-long cycles of oral chemotherapy.

The surgery was successful but after six weeks of therapy Austin received even more life-altering news.

Sot: “when you were told the average five year survival rate was just 25 percent, was that a surreal moment for you? Everything can be overcome and you never give up hope about anything really.”

Austin began proton radiation therapy at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas.

“They were very concerned about preserving my neuro-cognitive function, so that i could return to medical school as soon as possible and be able to go on and live a normal, happy life.”

In just six weeks, Austin completed his treatment at M.D. Anderson.

“Anything is possible," Austin said. "No matter what the situation is, no matter what you’re told or how grim the outcome seems.”

LSU Health Assistant Dean Dr. Mark Platt believes Austin’s journey is only going to make him a more compassionate physician.

“You need to cherish everyday one at a time that’s what it’s taught me,” Austin said. "This whole entire experience from August 12 onward because you never know what can happen.”

The test of a lifetime — now offering Austin life changing perspective.

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