Ryan was 4 years old when he was diagnosed. He didn’t have any symptoms that really shouted at us, just some subtle changes we noticed that gave us cause for some concern and that nagging feeling in the pit of your stomach that something was just “off”. My non-napping child (he seriously had never taken naps!) started falling asleep in the car line when we would pick ryan1-2up his sister from school, my mother commented on his eye doing something “funny,” he started to seem to take a little longer to tell me things, seemed to stumble some, and in the evening I noticed some puffiness on the right side of his face, These symptoms didn’t occur everyday, so it was hard to know if it was something or just us being paranoid. I took him for a thorough check-up and he tested positive for strep. Such a relief because that would explain some things. Our pediatrician checked his eyes as well and said she did think he was developing a “lazy eye”.. She set us up to see the opthalmologist in 4 weeks. That was a long 4 weeks for us as Ryan was still “off” even after finishing his antibiotics for the strep infection – that nagging feeling just wouldn’t go away. During his eye examine it became obvious very quickly that something was wrong. Our doctor sent us immediately for an MRI and explained that Ryan’s optic nerve was swollen and that he most likely had a brain tumor. Life was turned upside down in the matter of just a few seconds. The MRI confirmed that Ryan did indeed have a brain tumor – Medulloblastoma to be exact. He was admitted to the PICU and a few days later had a complete resection of the tumor. He had 6 weeks of radiation and a year of chemo. I am beyond thrilled to report that Ryan is now 12 years old and is absolutely our hero! He deals every single day with the unpleasant long term side effects of surgery, radiation, and chemo but never complains. He chooses to live his life as an overcomer rather than a victim. Ryan and all of these amazing childhood cancer warriors give a whole new meaning to the word courageous. There is no greater gift that you could give than to support childhood cancer research – these children deserve so much more.
Ryan is your typical 12 year old boy – he loves hanging with his friends, movies, video games, nerf gun wars, listening to some Toby Mac, and playing basketball and ping pong. He enjoys going on mission trips and is getting ready to go on his second one over spring break this year. And he loves pizza!