Reflecting and Preparing

Good morning and a very happy Wednesday to all of you! Most of you know I am on my way to Houston for my first REAL follow-up scan since having my left completion pneumonectomy. Scanxiety is in full force, but what an amazing 8 weeks this has been. The ability to reflect on what has happened in your life is truly important. I’m not talking about the casual “I had a great time with family/friends/coworkers on such and such day, and I learned a lot”. I am talking about the deep, well-thought out reflections that truly can alter the way you think about life, yourself, those around you, and your future decisions. You have to ask yourself questions that only you would know the answer too because only you know both sides of the coin on any particular topic. For instance, for me, what have I learned from my decision to go through with complete removal of my left lung? If these scans show any sign of disease, would it have been worth it? How has life changed, if at all, since your last scan showing no sign of disease? These questions I will answer in a little bit. Adding on, there is a fine line between true reflecting and causing yourself to feel regret. You must never feel regret; ever. Period. If you do, you are missing the whole point of making decisions, making mistakes, and reflecting/learning from them. You must always remember no matter how big or small a decision is, it cannot be undone. Right or wrong, it is your new normal with whatever choice you made.

For me, these last 8 weeks have been amazing. For those who have had to battle cancer, only you will know what one single scan of NED can do for you. This disease most likely will show it’s ugly head again. If it does, the when, how, and where only God truly knows. There is no use in thinking about it, but that is easier said than done. However, I have had this opportunity to live almost two months with the notion of being disease free; of living a semi-normal life. God has blessed me with an incredible amount of things throughout this whole journey, but especially these last 8 weeks.

Since my NED scan, we had a very successful 5K in support of Angiosaroma Awareness held in Troy, Michigan. I was able to meet, greet, share stories, laugh, and cry with over 400 people. This was all put together in a month with the very support group that has been by our side this entire time. It is amazing what we can all do together! Truly amazing and humbling.

We have begun the process of making Nobody Fights Alone into a registered nonprofit. It is very exciting because the sky will be the limit in raising awareness for angiosarcoma, raising awareness about truly supporting those in your life, and helping each other through anything and everything. It is a new chapter in my life, and something I am very passionate about!

Next, I started another chemo regimen about 7 weeks ago. Although my scans were clear, the disease is persistent and uncanny. It must be respected for the adversary that it is, and it must be constantly fought against. With that said, I am currently on round 19 of chemo with many more to go. Fortunately, I physically and mentally feel amazing. I have one lung and am on chemo, but I have not had this much energy and true zest for life in a long time. God has blessed me with having absolutely no side effects with this chemo. He has shown me so much to be thankful for. Since Andrea had to return to work, I have been able to take care of Landon and Logan without assistance on a daily basis all without being wiped out come afternoon. The feeling I feel when it’s just the boys and me cannot ever be put into words, but it is the most amazing, heart warming, and miraculous feeling in the world. On top of that, for the time being, every one can resume normal roles within our lives. Our mothers/fathers can once again just be grandmothers/grandfathers, aunts can be aunts, brothers/sisters/cousins can all be just that. If you have never been a caregiver to someone, it is a very hard concept to explain, but it is an amazing feeling not having to ask for help around the house. I feel useful, important, and confident in my ability to be a husband to Andrea and the father I have always wanted to be. God has truly blessed me, especially lately.

Most importantly, I am living. I do not mean living in the physical sense that my cells are still alive, or that my heart is still beating. They are important, but it isn’t my true definition of living. What I am talking about is everything that I have been discussing up to this point; sharing my life; reconnecting with old friends; connecting with amazing new ones; laughing and crying with all of you; and sharing the joys of life.

God has granted me life through the notion of facing death. He has allowed me to witness Andrea transition from an amazing daughter; to a beautiful girlfriend; to a wonderful fiancé; to the most devoted, loving and committed wife; and to the perfect mother. She is all of these, and more. Furthermore, regardless of what I have been going through, no matter the surgery or treatment at the time, God allowed and made sure I was at the birth of both my sons. I was able to witness the very miracle of life itself twice; hear the once in a lifetime cry of a baby’s first breath; and witness a smile like no other on the face of my beautiful wife. He has given us a beautiful home with the most amazing neighbors. He has provided me with this blog for my sons to read one day to truly know how their father felt about them, about their mother, and about life. They now have a memento from me to always have and carry with them should this disease take my life. He has given us the most committed, loving, and endearing family a person could have ever asked for. And, for the support group, it has no boundary; you all have no apparent limits on the amount of love and affection you are willing to give my family and me. You are all angels in your own way, and you are all a very important part of my foundation for living. The nonprofit we are creating is Nobody Fights Alone, and you are each the living definition of those three words.

Death comes to us all, but not everybody truly lives. I now hope I know the meaning of this phrase, or, at the very least, I’m striving to gain knowledge to fulfill the living part. My hope and dream is to pass on what it truly means to live your life to all of you without having you go through this. My prayer is for God to use me in all of your lives in whatever capacity you will allow. I am here for you as much as you are for me. Our relationship is most definitely a two way street, and I hope you always know that. Many of you have respected this relationship of give and take. You have not felt guilty or belittled your issues in light of mine. I have said it before, but it is all about perspective and what you have been through. Sharing is sharing. And it needs to work in both directions, and I truly appreciate all of the personal life stories you have all shared and continue to share with me privately.

I will be honest about this scan today. It scares me very much. With the other scans, I was always prepared for bad news because it was all we were getting in previous scans. However, my last scan showed NED. Since my last scan, I have never felt so alive, useful, and loved except for two other times. Furthermore, the two other times I speak of my life was going exceptionally well as it is now. Unfortunately, both other times were when I first found out I had angiosarcoma in 2009 and my recurrence in March of 2012. It is when my life is going so well that devastating news does the most damage to me. It is when I am finally beginning to see the light of day again that being knocked backward into the dark unknown takes its toll on me; on us. I have been praying. We all have been praying with such dedication and commitment. We will never know His master plan, but I hope His mercy and healing hand are with us at all times. He has given me so much in this life that it is my prayer to continue living in every sense of the word on this world He has provided.

Thank you for all of your love and support. Please pray for great news, but also pray that should we get bad results that God will give us comfort, peace, and a plan going forward. Pray for my wife as you always do for peace of mind as we are apart while I get the results in Houston. Through death, comes life, but this doesn’t mean you have to truly pass on to understand what this means. For the time being, I hope I am somewhat of living proof. I am so glad you have all decided to join us on every step of this journey. We have learned so much about love and laughter, sorrow and loss, and patience and understanding. We have grown to truly appreciate each and every day, but our work is not done yet. We still can move mountains, but only if we do it together!

I truly love you all with all my heart. You have helped us out in more ways than you could ever imagine. You are the definition of support and love. Have an amazing day, and make today all that it is meant to be!

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6 Responses to Reflecting and Preparing

  1. Victoria says:

    Praying for you, my wonderful brother- I love you more!!! <3

  2. Gerri Hoffman says:

    I feel that anxiety, that pit in my stomach for you. I know what it is like to be waiting on results that can be so life changing. I pray that God has worked his miracle and that you will continue to be cancer free… you have so much living left to do; so much good in your heart and actions. I pray God gives you and your beautiful wife strength, courage, and a sense of peace and calm as you embark on these next days. ♥

  3. Leann says:

    You and Andi continue to be in my prayers at least twice a day for sure, and sometimes
    it is 5 times a day. You are at the top of the list. I am praying for peace and health for
    you and for your family.
    May God continue blessing and providing for you,

  4. Renee Levasseur says:

    I pray that God has given you the miracle of showing the scan, cancer free. Pray for you nightly. You have no idea on how much you have helped me in my struggles. I thank you so much! God certainly has a purpose for you and you are definitely fullfilling it. God’s continued blessings on you and your wonderful family.

  5. Rachel Peters says:

    Hi Ryan,
    As always I have been praying for you and your family, thanking God that your last results show NED and that you have won the battle for 4 years, most aren’t that lucky if what I have been researching is correct.. I pray that you get many more years of having NED because those beautiful boys deserve a father like you, so many fathers aren’t involved and here you are fighting for your life to be able to be here for them and for Andrea, it is truly amazing and inspirational, at least to me, and rest assured that your words have helped me along the way while I strive to make some pretty intense positive changes within myself and my life, so for that I thank you. I am at work and am not able to, but I wanted to shout “Praise God” out loud when you said you are pretty much side effect free from the rounds of chemo.. God is so wonderful and I thank Him everyday for allowing me to truly find Him and have an actual relationship with Him and to have met you and receive your positive messages in the darkest of your times.. it’s truly, truly appreciated because there are days when I need to be reminded not to be so self centered and resentful over little things and need to remind myself of all my blessings. I pray that you will forever be healed, with no reoccurance, that you only had to go through this to touch the lives of many, many others, that this cancer has served it’s purpose for you and now you will always and forever receive the words NED. <3

  6. Barb says:

    I continue to keep you in my prayers. Here’s hoping scans come back good. I’ve got everything crossed that I can, including my eyes! 🙂 xxoo Love you!

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