By Amy McSweeney - September 15, 2023
Ethan Ausley is just a small-town boy from Iron City, Georgia. The high school student enjoys bass fishing and showcasing livestock in his free time. When a small, red bump appeared above his knee, he thought nothing of it. Seven months later, that tiny bump had grown significantly. Ethan’s parents took him to a dermatologist for further examination. Even after it was removed and sent for testing, the bump was described as “nothing.” But when the results came back, it was a different story.
Ethan was diagnosed with stage 3 melanoma at age 16.
After three long months of additional testing and visits to multiple doctors, Ethan was referred to Moffitt Cancer Center. He and his family made the 328 mile journey to Tampa to meet with surgical oncologist Dr. Jonathan Zager.
“It really makes you feel as a parent,” said Bob Ausley, Ethan’s father. “You get really defensive because you want something done and you want it done right when it’s your child and that’s what your focus is.”
By that time, the cancer had spread to Ethan’s lymph nodes. He began immunotherapy in March 2023. In late May, after three rounds of treatment, Ethan had surgery. Shortly thereafter he was declared cancer free.
“You hear stories all the time of kids having cancer and see the commercials on TV, but you think, oh that’ll never happen to me,” Bob said. “But it did happen to us, overnight. It changed Ethan’s life. Now he’s going to have to beat checks and scans for the rest of his life.”
"His prognosis is good considering his great response to immunotherapy."- Dr. Jonathan Zager. Cutaneous Oncology Program
“His prognosis is good considering his great response to immunotherapy. We will watch him closely with imaging over many years of follow up,” Zager said.
On Sept. 9, the Ausley family traveled to St. Petersburg to attend Moffitt Night at Tropicana Field. The Tampa Bay Rays honored Ethan through the Salute to Survivors program. He attended pre-game batting practice, got an autograph from pitcher Tyler Glasnow and got to watch the Rays beat the Mariners.