• Kylie Austin

Breaking Silence

I'm ready.

I'm finally ready to talk and address what's happening and what isn't happening.

I know everyone has had questions about my silence, my lack of involvement in competition, and my general step back from the soccer community as a whole.

I've had a reoccurrence with my cancer.

Due to this my doctors have deemed it better for me to take a step back from the game and competition.

You read that right, Kylie Austin is taking a (medically induced) sabbatical and yes, there is a chance that it turns into retirement.

And yes, I am scared.

The first time I went through cancer I thought it would be easier to shoulder my feelings and deal with it on my own and keep it away from people, but this time I'm just going to be straight about it.

I have days where I am so scared that I can't pull myself out of bed or get out of the house.

I have people who treat me like the disease I have instead of as a person. People who have known me far longer than this disease has. And that kills me too. It's as though as soon as they found out, I was suddenly a completely different person than who I was the literal day before, when they saw me and had no clue.

And it's unfortunate but that's okay.

I have days where I'm too tired to sit up in bed for more than 20 minutes at a time, and then days where I'm up at 6 am and can run errands and do yoga and have lunch with friends.

My mom and I's trip to France came at a perfect time. I didn't have to be the girl who had cancer, I didn't have to hear how sorry people were and deal with the pity glances. I've truly never felt so free and so at home, and that's something I miss daily.

Plus, cute french boys buying your coffee doesn't hurt much either.

I think I've written something similar to what I've written here every day, but could never finish it. I could never find the right words and juxtaposition of such to fully express what I'm feeling and dealing with.

I've done this before. I can do it again.

This still doesn't change that it absolutely shattered me to have to take a giant step, albeit more like a leap, back from soccer and the community. Many amazing opportunities, both home and abroad, arose for my career this summer. My focus was to enter the 2018 NWSL Draft, which made me feel like having a great season this summer would be a great step towards that.

And then I get a call,

and the world stops for 9 minutes and 36 seconds,

and I can't breathe.

I can't move, I can't speak, I can't understand the words that I just heard.

Then I do.

My first question, to absolutely no one's surprise, is if I can still play

it's silent

it feels like an eternity

"We think it's best for you to take it easy and not compete as we deal with this"

We all know I'm stubborn as hell, especially my doctors. So I push again, and this time it's the answer I already knew but needed to hear directly.

And she said the two letters, and I hit my knees and lost it.

For a long while it had felt like everything I had fought so hard to get back was ripped away, and this time there was a chance it was permanently gone. I was going from training with players that I had grown up watching and being in awe of, to not playing at all just because for some damn reason this disease wants to go another round with me.

I've gone through this before, so I don't know why this time it hurt more than the first time. Maybe I thought I was in the clear. I had just celebrated being in remission in 2 years, my body was working for me instead of against me, and I could see results in what I was doing. I was making all the right steps forward across the board and then I wasn't. It was something I couldn't wrap my head around for the longest time. I didn't want to deal with it, I didn't want to acknowledge what was happening, I didn't want it to be true, and yet it was. It is.

You won't see me jumping in on indoor games, or pick up games for awhile. You won't see me out at Dash or other women's soccer games for awhile. It's something I have to work up to. It's something that I have to ease in to, that I have to get right physically before I do, and that I have to be okay emotionally for. I support my girls and I wish them well in their seasons, but I know I can not only compete but perform at these levels and right now it just hurts a little too much to not be able to. I'll work back to it all, but its the small steps I'm taking daily.

Recently I've taken a bigger step. I went back home to my family at Dynamos SC and am assisting with the summer fitness camp, dubbed Walker Camp for our amazing 97 year old (jokes) coach Jim Walker. I grew up suffering, endearingly said, through this camp with my teammates and older players who pushed me and helped make me into the player, person, and coach I am today. If you've got soccer kiddos playing club, I highly recommend this camp this summer. You might fear the number 70 after it, but it'll build character and prepare you for what ever is next in your playing career.

Being involved back at the club that I grew up at has made transitioning back into the community a lot easier for me. Working with these kids who come out because they genuinely love the game and want to be a better player reminds me of why I love the game and doing what I do. It doesn't matter where I go or what I do, this club has always welcomed me back with open arms and shown me love throughout it all. I don't think I'll ever get to fully express my gratitude for what Dynamos SC has and continues to do for me.

As for testing and appointments go, I will be seeing a specialist this Thursday morning in order to see what the next steps are to properly eradicate this and get me back on the pitch.

I know I've been silent and withdrawn, and I thank everyone who has reached out and shown their love and support and given me time to process this. It took a bit but I can finally put this into words and share it with you. I've finally got a good headspace and I'm ready to take this on.

Thank you, for letting me breathe again,


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