William Dominic "Billy" Austin's first rule of his new life is this: Never allow someone to convince you that you are healthy if you know that you don’t feel like yourself—it could cost you your life.

As a former NFL player with the Indianapolis Colts, Austin was visibly in good shape and a self-proclaimed fitness buff, but when an onset of stomach discomfort, unexplained fever and fatigue began to plague him, he knew something wasn't right. Over the course of several months, Austin visited a number of professionals who assured him the conditions he was experiencing were all stress-related. Trusting his better instincts, Austin continued to seek answers about his health and reached out to the NFL Player Care Program , which is managed by the Cleveland Clinic in Las Vegas, ranked the 4th best hospital in the country where he would receive a life-altering diagnosis.

Austin tells of the visit in his own words saying, "It was the week of my 39th birthday, and I was there for two days from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and underwent testing from head to toe. On the second day the Internal Medicine doctor noticed the tumors on my shoulder along with a small mole on the back of my head and recommended that I be screened for cancer. During the same visit I was informed that I was partially deaf in my inner ear as well as a few other challenges, needless to say it was a hard pill to swallow. I returned to Los Angeles that evening and it would be two months before I got a biopsy.  Thanks to the persistence of the doctors at the Cleveland Clinic I was diagnosed with stage III Non Hodgkin’s Lymphoma on 5/21/2014."

While the diagnosis is a recent one for Austin and his loved ones to cope with, it is not one that deters his do-good spirit from wanting to change the fight of his life into a learning experience for others. Shortly after his diagnosis, Austin started Tackles4Cancer , a non- profit organization to promote cancer awareness and help those in need of financial and emotional assistance while fighting cancer.

Thank you, Dominic Austin, for being not only an inspiration to those close to you, but to committing to being a fighter for yourself and others.

To find out more about Dominic Austin on his Facebook page , and visit Tackles4Cancer for additional information about the non-profit.