East Ridge Football Coach Battling Brain Cancer

Second Bout With Cancer For Austin Roden

Thursday, July 31, 2014 - by B.B. Branton

“If chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant don't work then I guess that’s it. I don’t want to die, but I am not afraid of dying and there is a big difference.

“The Lord is taking care of me and I know I’ll go to heaven when I die.”

-- East Ridge Volunteer Wide Receivers Coach Austin Roden

Something was wrong. Seriously wrong. But Austin Roden did not know what.

Two weeks ago, his hands were numb and he had severe headaches and after some tests the doctor gave him the news he did not expect to hear.

The brain cancer he had beaten three years earlier had returned in the form of six tumors.

“I was in shock, started crying and told myself ‘I don’t want to hear this,’” said Roden who works for Lipsey Logistics and is also a volunteer wide receivers coach for his alma mater, East Ridge.

Eight Treatments: Roden, 24, has finished the first of eight chemotherapy treatments as he will spend every other week in the hospital until mid-November.

“If the chemo doesn’t work, then the doctors will try a bone marrow transplant,” said Roden who played football, soccer and basketball for the Pioneers graduating in 2009.

“If the bone marrow transplant doesn’t work then I guess that’s it. I don’t want to die, but I am not afraid of dying and there is a big difference.

“The Lord is taking care of me and I know I’ll go to heaven when I die.”

And while the Lord has His hand on Roden, the young man also has friends who have come along side in this tough time, including Leslie Hixson his girlfriend of four years who was Miss East Ridge as a senior in 2011.

“We are in this fight together with Austin,” said East Ridge football coach Tracy Malone.

“Austin has done a super job with our receivers as he has been like a sponge working all winter watching game film learning as much as he can.

“It’s hard to see someone that young fighting for his life.”

Roden is appreciative of the support he has received from the East Ridge football family.

“The receivers I have been working with have stopped by the hospital to show me their support which is great,” said Roden who has a strong athletic family including his brother and former East Ridge quarterback Bradford Turner and his dad, Arthur Roden who was one of catchers on the 1977 class A state champion Lookout Valley High School baseball team.

Roden’s first bout with brain cancer came in June of 2011 as a seizure led to tests which showed one tumor.

“I was lying next to a pool in East Ridge that summer and all of a sudden my body started shaking and I couldn’t breathe and thought I was going to die right then.”

The doctors successfully removed the one tumor and told him he was cancer free in Nov. 2011.

“I was not scheduled to see the doctors for my yearly check-up until this September until I started feeling bad last week.”

Now in the early stages of his second battle with cancer, Roden has great support and prayers from friends and family and excellent medical advice from his doctor.

“No doubt this will be an uphill battle for me the next few months as I won’t be able to coach my guys this fall, but I do plan to attend as many games as possible cheering them on to victory.”

And Roden’s battle through recovery should provide ample inspiration for his band of receivers to give 100% for their coach in the season opener (Aug. 22) at Walker Valley with the home opener the following week against Notre Dame (Aug. 29).

contact B.B. Branton at william.branton@comcast.net


East Ridge Soccer Wins 3-0 Over Sweetwater

Coy Vandergriff, Hunter Schobert and Alejandro Vicente scored goals for the East Ridge boys soccer team Thursday night in their 3-0 win over Sweetwater.  The Pioneers end the regular season with a 10-2 record.  East Ridge will host a district semifinal game against the winner of Howard and Central next Tuesday at 7 p.m.   Rijad Kazic, Hunter Schobert and Alejandro ... (click for more)

Lee Baseball Set For Post-Season Run

The journey to the tourney begins on Saturday afternoon (4 p.m. EDT) when the Lee University baseball team (30-16) faces host and top-seeded University of West Florida (33-13) in the Gulf South Conference Tournament at Jim Spooner Field. Coach Mark Brew and his Flames have been waiting for this time to come since Lee athletics moved away from the NAIA and SSAC three years ago. ... (click for more)

Mayor Berke Pledges $6 Million For New Recreation Center At Avondale

Mayor Andy Berke announced Thursday that he plans to include $6 million in his upcoming budget for a new Recreation Center at Avondale. He said at a press conference at the current center on Dodson Avenue, "We want to make an investment in Avondale." Mayor Berke said the current center by Wilcox Boulevard was built in 1949 and last remodeled in 2002. The new center, which ... (click for more)

Developer Plans Single-Family Homes, Townhomes, Apartments, Retail On 7.5 Acres At South Broad Street

A developer is planning single-family homes, apartments, townhomes and retail on a 7.5-acre South Broad Street site. The development by South Broad LLC and DEW LLC is located within several blocks between South Broad Street, W. 26th Street, Long Street and W. 27th Street. It would include a 3-story U-shaped apartment building with ground floor retail at the north end of the ... (click for more)

Thankful For The Vital Role Teachers Played In My Life

Re: Roy Exum: Teachers Day Tomorrow Roy, I am especially appreciative of your poignant column written in tribute to teachers.  It made me tear up, as I have encountered both as a student and a career educator-- teachers like the second-grade teacher who said, "I wish you were my little girl" and teachers like Mrs. Poindexter.   My teachers have played such a vital ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: ‘No’ To Schools Budget

When the Hamilton County Commissioners and officials of the Hamilton County Department of Education met for 3 ½ hours on Tuesday, they studied a proposed budget of roughly $385 million – this $24.2 million over an anticipated $361 million in revenues. Now let’s pretend it is a Tuesday night at your own kitchen table and your favorite son – after misbehaving in a somewhat stunning ... (click for more)