All of the PCRF scholars are worthy of having their story told. Each one has endured hardship and overcome obstacles that no child should ever be asked to face. Through these scholarships, PCRF is providing a tangible means of supporting quality of life for childhood cancer survivors. We’d like you to meet Ryan – a warrior, pitcher and friend. Despite his diagnosis, he manages to find comfort during the tough days of missing out on his favorite sport – baseball.
“Over the last six months I’ve been the lucky recipient of an outpouring of love and support from my community. Friends and family came over to visit, people were dropping off food, and still others began organizing fundraisers for me. Dinners, wristbands and 5K races have all been orchestrated to support me and my family. All of this has been overwhelming, but this kindness, compassion, and generosity had given me so much hope. I didn’t know I would feel so grateful when my life took a dramatic turn in July.
What began as a day of volunteering at my high school’s baseball camp for younger kids, ended with my admission into the children’s hospital at the Westchester Medical Center. After a week of medical tests and blood work, doctors sat me and my parents down to deliver the results. Dr. Rosenbloom spoke the words very seriously. He said, “I am sorry to tell you, but results show you have stage 4 Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.” At that moment, I thought to myself how quickly things had changed for me. But also, how I would beat this challenge. I have always been a positive person and somehow, I managed to tap into that mindset at that moment.
All the positivity in the world could not change the fact that my whole world turned upside down. Although I had noticed a small bump on my shoulder that day, it had never occurred to me or my family to be something serious. Thoughts raced through my head. “How will this affect my college plans? How am I going to continue to play baseball as team captain? Will I be able to attend my senior year of high school? How will I maintain my friendships? Would they change because of this?”
Within days I started chemotherapy treatments. I quickly learned that on a weekly basis I would be getting a needle in the vein of my upper shoulder. I was nervous about the colored liquids pumping into my body and what their side effects would be. As this first course of treatment came to a close, I quickly realized there were others on this journey; as I exited the treatment room, my eyes roamed the corridors and what I saw gave me both comfort and pain, but mostly comfort. It helped me to see other kids fighting the same fight, and although it was difficult to see infants sharing the same battle, I experienced a moment of relief. I wasn’t alone.
As I near the end of my treatments, I envision myself back on the pitcher’s mound and graduating with my classmates. To welcome me back, my school district has planned a “Strikeout Cancer Day” when I return in January.
Reflecting back to the hospital, I remember saying to my parents, “I don’t know why I’m going through this right now, but I believe I will be able to help others because of this someday.” I’m not exactly sure where this challenge will lead me, but I do know that I will pay this kindness forward whenever possible, just as my community helped me.”
You have the power to help kids, like Ryan, become cancer-free and live a healthy life beyond their diagnosis. Now is the time to become a vital part of advancing pediatric cancer research.