Print Family asks for prayers to heal son
Written by Mark Lineberger   
Thursday, 16 June 2011 00:00

Austin Strean is a lot like any other 2-year-old.

He’s curious, he likes to play, and he doesn’t always listen the first time mom tells him to do — or stop doing — something.

At least, that’s on a good day.

Camp Verde resident Austin Strean, 2, suffers from bilateral retinoblastoma and faces the possible loss of both his eyes to the disease. His family is requesting prayers from the community leading up to a Thursday, June 23, doctor’s appointment.Just after his first birthday a year ago, Austin was diagnosed with bilateral retinoblastoma, a rare eye cancer that most commonly affects young children. While victims of this form of cancer have a fairly high rate of survival, it leaves Austin more susceptible to other types of cancer that could affect the brain, spine and lungs. On top of that, Austin has also been diagnosed with an Arnold-Chiari malformation, a brain problem that can lead to a variety of worrying symptoms, father Randy Strean said.

There’s a chance the cancer could cost young Austin his vision or even an eye. Already, the disease makes Austin very sensitive to the light. In sun-soaked Arizona, traveling outside with sunglasses is a must. The big dark shades would almost make Austin look like a 2-year-old rock star, if it weren’t for the serious reason he wears them.

It’s difficult for his family to watch this little boy battle this cancer, a prospect that frequently gives adults pause. It’s hard for others outside the family to fathom what a 2-year-old like Austin understands what he’s facing.

“He’s in a lot of pain sometimes,” said Cassie Strean, the boy’s mother. “He knows something is wrong. The bright light hurts his eyes, and he tells us he’s scared. He asks why this is happening to him.”

Austin has yet to have a regular birthday. He was sick on his first, May 6, 2010. When he still wasn’t better after a few days, Austin was sent to a hospital in Phoenix where his family learned exactly what was troubling him. Austin was apparently born with the condition, but by the time it was detected the tumors had grown quite large.

Since then, the family has had to make frequent trips to the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles, where doctors have what’s needed to treat Austin.

Still, every time they’ve been, Cassie Strean said they just seem to get more bad news. On the most recent trip, they learned Austin had additional tumors growing on one of his eyes.

“He really doesn’t like car rides,” Strean said. “He thinks he’s going somewhere where he’s going to get poked and prodded.”

As it is, Austin has undergone treatment with chemotherapy, lasers and cryotherapy, the latter being a method of using extreme cold to destroy diseased tissue.

Austin went through some vomiting as a result of the chemo, but he finished the treatment. Now with the discovery of the new tumors, Cassie Strean said doctors want to possibly try radiation or remove the right eye entirely. It all depends on the results of Austin’s next visit to Los Angeles, scheduled for Thursday, June 23.

The family has received support from their pastor and church, Pastor Don Randall and the congregation at the Lighthouse Baptist Church in Camp Verde.

The entire ordeal is certainly a financial strain, but the family isn’t asking for donations. They’re just asking for prayers.

“We don’t really know what else to do at this point,” said Mickey Elmer, Austin’s grandmother. “A miracle is our last hope.”

To that end, Cassie Strean said she believes the more people she can get to pray for her boy, the better.

She offers up the Bible verse she feels is most applicable to the situation, Matthew 18:20: “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, I am there in the midst of them.”

Randall, who for years did mission work in Europe, said he’s got many people overseas praying for young Austin. Cassie Strean said the family would be grateful to have many neighbors closer to home doing the same.