Deerfield alums rally to aid classmate
Friends and former classmates are hosting a fundraising event Saturday at Trax Tavern and Grill for Deni Austin (shown at right), who has brain cancer. Austin is shown with her daughter, Sarah, and husband, Bob. | Photo submitted.
What: Benefit for Deni Belson Austin
When: 7 to 11 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 8
Where: Trax Tavern and Grill, 833 Deerfield Road, Deerfield
Why: To offset medical costs
Updated: October 7, 2012 6:19AM
DEERFIELD — Classmates who attended Deerfield High School with Deni Belson Austin in the early 1980s are pulling together to help their fellow alumnus, whose brain cancer was stable for more than six years but has since re-emerged.
Austin, who now lives in Cave Creek, Ariz., once again has required brain surgery and radiation treatments.
Friends are hosting a fundraiser from 7 to 11 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 8, at Trax Tavern and Grill, 833 Deerfield Road, Deerfield. Austin said she plans to attend.
“I’m just really looking forward to seeing everybody,” she said this week.
Seven years ago, Austin was an account executive for a division of the Estee Lauder Co. when she was diagnosed with a grade IV glioblastoma multiforme, or GBN.
“Originally, the Mayo Clinic had given me five to eight months without treatment and offered me little chance of surviving past a year even with treatment,” said Austin, who was advised to visit the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas, where she received her initial treatment.
For the past 6 1/2 years, her tumor has remained stable. However, this past February, she experienced a recurrence. Though MD Anderson no longer was in her insurance network, she and her family decided it was the best place for her to undergo chemotherapy.
Previously private about her illness, Austin opened up during a recent 30th Class Reunion.
“It was the best decision I’ve ever made,” she said. “I’ve never felt more supported and loved.”
Lisa Stanley, who has spearheaded the fundraiser, is a cancer survivor herself and the mother of a daughter who has survived cancer.
“I felt an immediate connection with Deni and wanted to help,” she said.
Once Stanley announced her desire to host a fundraising event to help offset the cost of medical bills, the response was immediate.
“I was overwhelmed by the outpouring of support and generosity from so many old friends,” she said.
Admission can be purchased for $25 at the door. The event will include raffles, prize giveaways and a performance by high school rock and roll band Blitz Creek from the Class of 1981, performing together again after 30 years.
All proceeds will go toward offsetting the cost of Austin’s treatments.