This is the inspiring moment a cancer-stricken teen danced on stage for the last time ahead of a life-changing leg amputation.
Austin Hewitt, 18, was diagnosed with ewing sarcoma in July 2016, an aggressive bone cancer which was growing in his big toe.
The teenager, who has a passion for dance, was forced to have the toe amputated and undergo 26 rounds of chemotherapy to treat the tumor.
Austin, of Greentown, Indiana, was joyous when doctors told him he was in remission in June 2017 but sadly another tumor was detected in his ankle just a year later.
The senior has been a member of Eastern Howard School Corporation’s show choir since his freshman year and was devastated when doctors advised further amputation of his foot.
On October 31, the 18-year-old underwent surgery to remove his left leg below the knee at Riley Children’s Hospital in Indianapolis which will give him the best chance at beating his cancer.
The teen took to the stage with his show choir for the last time during its fall performance on September 26, an evening which he said was bittersweet.
Austin said: “It was bittersweet because I knew it would be a while until I was back on stage again. It was one last time before this huge change.
“Going on stage and waiting for the curtains to open was thrilling and I just focused on soaking everything in.
“It wasn’t until the final number that I felt sad about the whole thing. That was because I knew it would be a while until I can do what I love again.
“I’ve been performing since I was a fourth grader.
“It wasn’t until middle school that I became involved in choreography. I love dancing and it is my true passion in life.
“When I first got my diagnosis I was worried about my performing career.
“I didn’t take any time off I school and I tried to make every practice I could.
“Even though I was sick, I didn’t want to stop and I only missed two performances the whole year.
“I was determined to keep dancing.
“I was determined not to let it affect my life.
“After my treatment I was in remission for a whole year but I understood it was an aggressive cancer and it could come back.
“Five days before I was to celebrate my remission anniversary I was re-diagnosed. The cancer had come back in my ankle.
“I was so angry because I just didn’t want to do this all over again. It was so frustrating.
“This prognosis wasn’t as good as before.
“Basically my body seems to have the ingredients to keep producing this cancer. It’s scarier.
“Amputation came up instantly this time.
“They spoke about amputating my foot.
“I did six weeks of chemo therapy and the scans came back and they were disheartening.
“I was given four or five options, which included amputating my foot at various points.
“I chose to have a below the knee amputation because it gives me the best chance.
“My leg was removed mid-shin, which is several inches away from the cancer site which makes it less likely to reoccur. It went really well.”
The teen is optimistic that he will be back dancing by January and will have his first fitting for prosthetics in two weeks.
Austin will also continue weekly chemotherapy sessions for the next few months in the hopes of killing the disease.
Austin said: “There’s been so much advancement in terms of prosthetics and I know I can still pursue my passion.
“There’s so much evidence that you can still have an active life after an amputation.
“I think an amputee even won Dancing with the Stars.
“I am confident this is the best decision for me but it hasn’t been an easy one.
“Of course it’s scary and I wish this was a decision I didn’t have to face at 18, but it is.
“I am a positive person and I’m very determined that this will be just a chapter of my life.”