Survivor Spotlight: Ryan
Just joined the site and wanted to share my story. I lost my grandpa to brain cancer in 2010. He had no chance to fight it and it was only a few weeks from the time they found it until the time he passed. It hit me hard, he was my greatest friend and I miss him terribly to this day. It hurt so bad that he was not going to see me get married and be around anymore.
Fast forward to June 16th of 2012, Father's Day and one week before my first wedding anniversary. I was in the hospital with the worst stomach pain I've ever felt. The doctor tells us I have cancer, not sure what kind yet, but says lymphoma at first, a virtual death sentence. It had spread to both lungs, my left kidney, and my stomach. More tests and scans and there was also a blood clot in my renal and IVC veins, but it’s not lymphoma, but rather testicular cancer.
With the right treatment, they tell me it's very beatable. The first surgery was on my first wedding anniversary and after a week to recover, a week in the hospital to monitor my first round of treatment. They were very aggressive with the treatment with 3-week cycles of 5 days of chemo for 5 cycles. I also received a WBC booster to start the 3rd week. During the treatments, I also received a bag of potassium, that burned so bad going in.
My mindset from the beginning was one that I had to fight extra, since my grandpa did not get a chance for his fight. I had to remain positive no matter how tired I was for my family as I did not want to worry them. My wife, having lost her mother right before our wedding, was there every step of the way. I knew I had to stay strong and fight for her as well.
Fast forward to October... my final scans and blood work... I was finally going to be able to go back to work and restart my life. However, I found out that even though the cancer was gone and bloodwork was normal, the tumors remained, and without major surgery, the tumors would never go away. So, after a few days away to "celebrate" not having cancer I went in for the surgery. It was 14 hours I am told. They had to remove my left kidney as it was too damaged by cancer and they took all the lymph nodes from my abdomen. I woke up with 32 staples and a massive scar... the scar still itches, anyone else experience this?
Anyway, fast forward another few weeks and I'm starting to get really tired and have no appetite, turns out the lymph nodes are producing a fluid that my body is not absorbing as it should and is causing pressure that is shutting my right kidney down. It took 11 more days in the hospital to get that situated.
I finally got the all-clear to go back to work on January 1. Over the next 3 years, I was honored to captain a Relay for Life team, raising close to 10k dollars and volunteering as a member of the site's sponsorship advisor.
Coming up on this 10th anniversary I reflect on all I was able to learn about myself. The inner strength and confidence that this was not going to beat me and I how I fought like hell to overcome. I am extremely grateful for the support from family and friends, and a massive THANK YOU to my nurses at University Hospital in Cleveland that had to deal with me and my sometimes sour attitude at 8 am every morning.