Ryan's Medical Fund
On February 4, my 22 year old nephew Ryan Haag, went to the ER with terrible pain in his left thigh. The ER doctor ordered a variety of tests, and by 2AM that morning, he told Ryan and his Mom, Jennifer Casey (my sister), that if what he suspected was true, that this would be a life changing event for Ryan.
Indeed it was. Within a few days, Ryan had met with an oncologist in Lynchburg who told them that he had cancer. He suspected a sarcoma type tumor, approx 8" - 9" (which is a cancer in the soft tissue), and he suspected it was a childhood type of cancer, which was quite a surprise, as Ryan is 22. The oncologist recommended that Ryan go to St. Jude Children's Research Center and Hospital for treatment as that would be his best chance of beating the cancer.
With help from some special friends, lots of prayer and several miracles, Ryan was able to submit his medical records to St. Jude for review. Normally St. Jude doesn't except patients over the age of 19 unless it can be proven that the cancer is a form of childhood/adolescent cancer. Within 3 days of the review, Ryan and Jennifer were on a plane to St. Jude in Memphis, TN.
Ryan had a variety of tests and Dr. appointments his first week at St. Jude to confirm a diagnosis and prepare his method of treatment. Ryan was diagnosed with a 22cm tumor, called Non-Rhabdomyosarcoma Soft Tissue Sarcoma (NRSTS) - a very rare cancer. ( https://www.stjude.org/disease/non-rhabdomyosarcoma-soft-tissue-sarcoma.html)
On Thursday, Feb. 23, we learned that he will be at St. Jude for 7 months. He will take 5 types of chemo, the first 2 on Monday (Feb. 27)-- and then in cyles over a period of 22 weeks. In 2 weeks he'll begin proton radiation therapy that will occur 5 times per week (M-F) with some days overlapping the chemo. In 12 weeks, surgery is planned to remove the tumor. It's going to be a rough road, but Ryan is young and healthy otherwise, and he has a CAN DO attitude to beat this.
Prior to Feb. 4, Ryan was working for VA Dept. of Transportation part time and was waiting to be called for full time work. He has a girlfriend, Sydney. They've been dating for three years. Ryan was beginning his adult life, but now it's on hold for at least a year while he beats this cancer.
His mom, Jennifer, is on disability, so funds between them both are very little. Though St. Jude will take care of room and board and all the medical costs, there are still misc. expenses they have to cover. Funds collected will help with meals that aren't covered, transportation outside of the hospital when needed, some previous expenses they have to cover in Virginia, and medical costs incurred before going to St. Jude.
Please continue to pray for Ryan and Jennifer. If you can donate any amount, it would be so much appreciated!
Ryan would love to receive cards and letters as well. You may write him at this address:
Ronald McDonald House
Timothy Ryan Haag
535 Alabama Avenue
Memphis, TN 38105
Also, if you're a supporter of St. Jude, thank you! For so many children and young people, this is their life line!
Use this hashtag for Ryan when needed: #teamryan1994
Thank you, and God bless you all!
Ryan was getting ready to have the chemo port put in his chest (to help save veins during treatment).
Ryan and my Mom were very close. He helped her a lot as she became less mobile.
Ryan spent a little over a year at the Patrick Henry Boys Home. He did great there and it helped him become the young man he is today.
This family photo was taken a couple days before Ryan and Jennifer left for St. Jude. Pictured: r-l: Ryan, Jennifer, sister Amanda, Ryan's niece Avery, and brother-in-law, Alex.
The good news is that he and Jennifer will be able to come home for 4 days prior to the surgery! St. Jude's will fly them round trip! Have I told you lately how much I love St. Judes?! That hospital is amazing and the doctors and staff connected to it are top notch!
On a side note, Jennifer is healing from her emergency gall bladder surgery and is feeling back to normal. Our sister-in-law, Dawne, flew out to Memphis a week ago Sunday and spent the week with Jennifer and Ryan in order to help them get past the previous rough week. They really enjoyed her visit! Our other sister, Sherry and her daughter Amy will be visiting them this weekend which will be an encouragement as well.
Talking with Jennifer last week, she shared some of her thoughts about what it's like when your child has cancer. She said that at St. Judes (and even the Ronald McDonald House) that cancer is on your mind 24-7. It's everywhere, and though there is a lot of hope and joy, there is also heartache and pain. She said that not only do you care for and love your own child, you end up caring for and loving other families children going through the same thing. "I try not to get attached, but I can't help to. When one of their children hurts, we all hurt." The wonderful thing is that the individual families at St. Jude's become one family.
I am so thankful there is such a wonderful support system at St. Jude and the Ronald McDonald House. It's hard knowing we can't personally be there to help them through this long journey, but at least they have their new family to lean on when we aren't there.
And, they have the prayers and well wishes of all of you. Please keep them coming. It's getting harder for Ryan each time he has another chemo treatment. Continue your prayers for Jennifer as well.
And, please hug your loved ones today.
God bless you all!
Meanwhile, Ryan is being a real trooper. He's had one round of chemo and 4 to go before he'll be discharged either Friday or Saturday. Then, he and his Mom will recover together.
All in all, they are both doing well. It's been a difficult day for sure, but the Lord never gives us more than we can handle. He's giving Jennifer & Ryan a lot, but they're both rising to the occasion!
Please continue your prayers for them both. I'll plan to do another update once they're both back at the Ronald McDonald House.
And, be sure to hug your loved ones today.
At the end of their visit, Ryan had some more scans to see how the chemo was working. The results came in a few days later and they were good! The spot in his lungs is smaller (YEAH!) and the tumor in his leg, though larger due to swelling, was actually dying. The chemo is working! His doctor says Ryan is on schedule to have the surgery to remove the tumor in his leg in about 7 weeks, if all goes well.
He had 2 more days of chemo last week and he goes into the hospital for 5 days of chemo this coming Tuesday. Yet, because of the strength of the chemo, the drugs are hard on the rest of Ryan's body. Today, his Mom said he slept mostly, however he hasn't had any pain drugs lately. Ryan is also seeing a therapist to help him deal with everything.
He's enjoying receiving cards from his Aunt Frances, 2 times per week without fail! And, he loves getting cards from everyone else, even from people he doesn't know, who send him words of encouragement and prayer.
If you want to send a card to Ryan (or his Mom, Jennifer), his address is:
Ronald McDonald House
Timothy Ryan Haag
535 Alabama Avenue
Memphis, TN 38105
Please continue to pray for Ryan and his Mom. They are homesick for Virginia.
And, please hug your loved ones today!
God bless you all,
LuAnn, Ryan's Aunt
My husband is a Supervisor with VDOT...I'm going to see if we can't pull a little money to donate!