Even though this Indianapolis high school showman has many more shows ahead of him, 18-year-old Austin Hewitt performed on his own two feet for the last time.
Hewitt, a senior at Eastern High School has been battling bone cancer for the last few years, and had his left leg amputated.
“I know I’m coming back so it’s not like it was my last one ever but it was bittersweet,” Hewitt told InsideEdition.com. “It was sad because that was going to be my last [performance] for a while, but at the same time, I was still enjoying it as much as possible, absorbing every minute I could.”
Hewitt explained he has loved theater ever since his first performance of "Sleeping Beauty" in the fourth grade. He did eight more shows in elementary school before graduating and joining the drama club in middle school and high school, where he performed in productions of "The Diary of Anne Frank" and "It’s a Wonderful Life."
In his sophomore year, he was diagnosed with Ewing sarcoma. They found the cancer in his toe and after 12 weeks of chemotherapy, they amputated it.
“Luckily my second toe started balancing for me before I had it cut off,” Hewitt said. “So when I got my big toe cut off, I already had all my balancing issues figured out so I didn’t have any balancing issues at all.”
Despite doctors’ recommendation that he take a break from performing, Hewitt returned to the big stage almost immediately.
Last summer, they found the cancer had actually spread to his ankle.
“That’s a huge thing for dancers,” Hewitt said. “I told them originally I would do whatever I could to save my foot – chemo, radiation, whatever I needed to do – so I could keep dancing because I wanted to do it in college.”
But as he started looking into what life would be like on a prosthetic, he had a change of heart and made the difficult decision of amputating. Hewitt kept his head up, and is looking forward to learning to dance on a prosthetic.
“The night before [the amputation] was awesome,” he said. “My friends distracted me until pretty late at night. I went to bed, woke up the next morning, my friends went down to the surgery with me.”
Hewitt was surprised to be up and walking within a week after the surgery, and has been getting used to moving around on a temporary prosthetic before the limb heals and he can get fitted for a permanent one.
But through the difficult journey through cancer and amputation, Hewitt said his positive attitude has gotten him by.
“It’s much easier to pick that than it is to be sad,” Hewitt said. “Life is easier when you want to be upbeat about everything and take everything with a smile.”