Amazing Kids, Amazing Stories: Austin's Story
Kim and Jeff Schuetz of Fall River, Wisconsin, know that nothing turns a family’s world upside down quite like having a hospitalized child.
Their 4-year-old son, Austin, has battled Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) not once, but twice. When his cancer relapsed in the fall of 2012, Kim and Jeff were told that their son would require a bone marrow transplant aimed at completely ridding Austin’s body of “cancer cooties,” as he likes to call them.
The transplant took place on February 28, 2013, followed by five weeks during which Austin was confined to his room to prevent the chance of infection.
“Spending five straight weeks here with Austin really gave us an appreciation for all of the ways that this hospital eases the stress for the whole family,” Kim says. “Of course, the primary focus is on the child, and Austin always feels so comfortable with the doctors and staff. He has turned this place into another personal playground, which is saying a lot for a hospital.
“At the same time,” Kim says, “Jeff and I cannot say enough about how the staff always goes the extra mile for us too. We love participating in the daily ‘rounds’ discussions because we know our son best and everyone respects that. We also love the easy access to amenities that help keep our lives normal, such as washers and dryers for our clothes and comfortable family lounges.”
Child Life Manager Julie Auenson says her staff spends a lot of time with longer-stay families like the Schuetzes.
“Kim, Jeff and Austin essentially moved in to the hospital for his bone marrow transplant,” Julie says. “We want to make our patients and parents feel like family. When families find it hard to leave us - even when they get to take their child home - we know we have done our job well.”