Hi, I am Ryan Darby and I was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia when I was 6 years old. December 23rd, 2009, when most families were getting ready to celebrate the holidays with family and friends, I was being checked into a hospital, and starting chemotherapy. Life as I knew it, as a carefree 6 year old, was over. My new world consisted of blood work, names of drugs I couldn’t and still can’t pronounce (and I took them for 3 and 1/2 years), extended stays in the hospital, shots, clinic, breathing treatments, infusions and my hair falling out.
My story really begins when I hurt my leg playing football with my brothers…At first we thought I had pulled my groin muscle. But, when I didn’t get better, mom took me to the doctor on a Saturday morning.
After about 2 weeks of repeated doctor’s visits and tests, they still didn’t know exactly what was going on. My doctor suggested that we go to Georgetown Hospital to meet with the head of the Pediatric Hematology and Oncology Department, then, Dr. Aziza Shad. Dr. Shad was waiting for us in “clinic” when we arrived. She took my whole life history, looked at all the blood-work results and asked us to come back the next day for a bone marrow biopsy.
On Wednesday December 23rd – I had the procedure for a bone marrow test around 10am. We were nervous because they had to put me “under”! the test showed that I had leukemia! We checked in to the hospital that day. 3 weeks later, I was allowed to go home for the first time since my diagnoses.
Ahhh! To sleep in my own bed, to eat actual food, to be with my whole family for longer than a few brief minutes…I was SO excited.
My life has been flipped upside down and backwards! Now, I don’t remember life before cancer. To be honest, I don’t know that I want to. I would not be the same boy I am today. Cancer has made me who I am.
Today, I am 14 years old and in remission. February 23, 2018 marks my 5 year anniversary from the end of treatment and I am feeling great! Looking pretty good too!
I am SO very honored to be the namesake of JUST TRYAN IT. When I see the hundreds of kids posing themselves to help families like mine, I am inspired. I have been fighting and dealing with cancer for more than 1/2 my life and I am humbled to stand among the many JUST TRYAN IT triathletes fighting to end this terrible disease!
People have asked me what I have learned from having cancer. I tell them “Never Look Back”. You can’t change the past. But together, we can all change the future. I cannot wait for the day, when no other child has to hear those terrible three words, YOU HAVE CANCER!