After, what Ryan’s parents thought was a pulled muscle, he was taken to the doctor to be checked out.  Everything seemed okay and Ryan was back in school two days later.  When Ryan woke up in the middle of the night, a week and a half later, screaming that his back and hip were hurting, it was back to the doctor’s office.  The doctor sent Ryan for a full blood work up and a hip x-ray.  Then, the phone rang at 10:30pm.  The pediatrician had consulted with the head pediatric oncologists at Children’s Hospital and Medstar Georgetown University Hospital. Ryan needed more tests in the morning. At Georgetown Hospital, Ryan and his parents met with the head of the oncology department to discuss what might be happening.  Nervous and afraid as to what they would find…they checked in that morning, and Ryan did not leave the hospital again for 21 days!

Ryan was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) on December 23, 2009.   When most families were preparing to spend the holidays with family and friends, Ryan’s family was preparing for a terrifying, grueling journey.  3 ½ years of treatment started with 3 weeks in the hospital, filled with chemotherapy, steroids, scans, blood work, shots and much, MUCH more!

The Darby’s were lucky.  Ryan’s diagnosis was hopeful.  They were surrounded by friends and family that helped them in EVERY WAY possible.  While the journey to cancer-free was a long one, today, Ryan is a healthy, thriving teenager. Ryan’s dad is known to say, “cancer picked the wrong kid.” Indeed it did. Ryan has taken his difficult experience and turned it into good. He advocates on behalf of other kids with cancer, he speaks to crowds to raise awareness of the challenges associated with pediatric cancer, he inspires us with his motto, “never look back.”