Hundreds gather to support cancer patient

Heather Nyberg-Schlotzhauer

Beacon Correspondent

The evening began with multiple last-minute donations and happy faces lined up out the door of the Fortuna Fire Department. The event served about 300 people and rose over $30,000 to help with the uncovered medical cost, loss of wages, and necessary home improvements to accommodate medical needs.

Even with the event behind "Team Deb" is receiving personal donations and money from outstanding silent auction items. "The outpouring of support was amazing!" Angela Johnson said.

KIEM News Channel 3 interviewed Cas Austrus, Deb's husband, who said, "I am usually on the other side of giving and supporting others. It is really hard to be the one accepting."

Deb Austrus reportedly had an amazing time at the event and was deeply touched by the outpouring of support from family, friends, and the community.

John and Dorene Frey, Deb's parents, attended the evening's festivities. "Wow! We can't believe all the support," Dorene Frey said. "Everyone is so nice, and it is wonderful. There are a lot of caring people."

Deb Austrus recently had her medications changed with the aim of breaking the blood-brain barrier in hopes of preventing any new tumors and to help stop her current tumor.

Cas Austrus spent the weeks prior to the event highly conflicted with his emotions. "A lot of people think I am a really tough guy, but I could not imagine being able to keep it together," he said. "After I spoke with a member of Hydesville Church, who was passing on a donation for my wife, I came to realize how people felt about helping us. This amazing community has expressed they feel privileged to help us and would be humbled if we would accept the help."

Deb Austrus comes by her strength naturally. Her father was injured in a logging accident 38 years ago in August. Cas and Deb were due to be married that November, but postponed the wedding to January so that her father John Frey could defy the odds and walk with the help of crutches his beloved daughter down the aisle.

"She is very strong," Dorene Frey said of her daughter, their only child. "Whatever she needs to do she does. But enough is enough!"

"You tell 'em, hun," John Frey said, tears filling his eyes.

"This is an amazing place to live and it is an honor to be here," Cas Austrus said. "I wish everyone was coming together to support someone else. I wish my wife was not the one. But it is amazing to feel this outpouring of support."

Photo by Heather Nyberg-Schlotzhauer/Beacon

Team Deb takes a moment to come together and celebrate their hard work for Deb Austrus.