DALLAS, NC (WBTV) - 19-year-old Austin Farris's life turned upside down five months ago.
The Dallas, NC teenager was diagnosed with "undifferentiated sarcoma", a rare type of childhood cancer. It's ugly face often shows through pain or swelling after a tumor gets large enough to press against other organs.
Since April, Austin has been treated at Levine Children's Hospital.
"Austin fights ferociously," says mom Selina. "He's in-and-out of the hospital. He had a serious reaction to his first round of chemo. We're just trying to hang in there."
The cancer is located in Austin's lungs, liver, spleen. There's also a mass in his abdomen. Surgery is scheduled for November.
Austin graduated from Cramerton Christian Academy in 2015. He was diagnosed with cancer during the spring semester of his freshman year of college. He remained an honor roll student despite the diagnosis taking him off track.
Selina says her son is passionate about school and a talented musician who sings, plays piano and organ. He studied classical voice and opera since freshman year of high school and is an operatic bass-baritone who serves in church ministry as a pianist, organist, and minister of music.
As if that's not impressive enough, his mom says he got his license to "preach the Gospel" last year at Salem Baptist Church in Lincolnton. His mom says he plans to attend Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, NC when feeling better.
"And he will get better," she said. "We have to believe."
Maybe you sense the family's deep faith?
"After receiving the life-changing news of cancer, God began to show Austin direction," Selina said. "Throughout this journey, which has been very difficult, an almost inexplicable and overwhelming sense of comfort and peace have been provided in both Austin's life and our family's life."
Chemo treatments leave Austin weak but Selina says he NEVER complains and tries to always smile and inspire.
Austin lives with his parents, 14-year-old brother Seth and his beloved dog Gracie.
"My son is my HERO," Selina said. "He teaches our family. We just keep praying we'll get through this."
No matter how many of these kids we feature battling cancer in our area, there always seem to be more. I don't say that to be negative, I say that to be real.
September is Pediatric Cancer Awareness Month – "30 Kids. 30 Stories. 30 Days." Austin is the sixth. Thank you for sharing their stories. Hopefully they bring about not just awareness, but ACTION.
I can say with certainty the families hope you take something with you in your day after reading about their child.
Tomorrow you'll meet a sassy 7-year-old Survivor who says she wants to be the first female in the men's NBA.