Oro Valley teen cancer survivor becomes published writer - Tucson News Now

Oro Valley teen cancer survivor becomes published writer

Austin Thacker  (Source: Tucson News Now) Austin Thacker (Source: Tucson News Now)
(Source: Jennifer Thacker) (Source: Jennifer Thacker)
(Source: Jennifer Thacker) (Source: Jennifer Thacker)
(Source: Tucson News Now) (Source: Tucson News Now)
ORO VALLEY, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

A teen cancer survivor and aspiring writer saw his wish come true during a surprise presentation in the classroom on Wednesday.
"It's always been my dream to publish a book. I've been saying ideas since I was four years old," Austin Thacker said as his family, friends and teachers witnessed the moment of surprise.

Thacker is a senior at Ironwood Ridge High school in Oro Valley. His wish was granted thanks to the Make-A-Wish Foundation, which contacted a publishing house in California to help make Thacker’s dream become reality.

Thacker was diagnosed with stage-four non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma when he was 15 years old. He discovered cancer tumors had spread throughout his body.
"They were in my head, the lungs, spine, kidney, one wrapped around my heart," Thacker said.
Thacker underwent more than a year of chemotherapy and radiation treatments and through that difficult time, he began writing in a journal. The routine writing eventually led to an idea for a novel.
"I didn't really know where it was going to go. I wanted it to be a novella. But it kept on getting longer and it was a therapy for me in order for me to get back into my life because there was just a lot of stuff that I had to face. And that book helped me face it,” Thacker said.
The book is about a police officer in Tucson who is dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder, a condition that Thacker said he was familiar with as he battled his cancer.
"Through that experience, it left me very scarred and I'd usually have moments of breakdown and it felt like it didn't end," Thacker said.
But the teenager fought through and after surgery and more than 18 months of chemotherapy, Thacker is now cancer-free.
Thacker's achievement does not surprise his older brother, Matthew, who donated stem cells to help his younger brother with his treatments.
"I knew it was going to happen. I had no doubts. This kid, he fights for everything he wants and he gets it because he deserves it. He works hard for it. He spent his whole life with his jumbled ideas with the little book he's got and it all comes to life and he's finally seeing his dreams come true."
A contract for Thacker’s book, titled “My Hand Mitten” has been signed and will be published by Rare Bird Books. Thacker will begin the publishing process in the next few months.

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