“It’s just the flu,” Devon O’Dell told herself.
For two whole days, in the middle of summer vacation, eight-year-old Ryan had been sick − throwing up and complaining of headaches. Like any mother would, Devon assumed her son had caught a bug that had recently been making the rounds. But when he showed no signs of improvement, she took Ryan to their family doctor.
Their family physician performed some tests on young Ryan and within hours, he was rushed to Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego. That was the beginning of a journey Devon and her family never expected to take. Suddenly, and without warning, they were thrust into the most frightening experience of their lives. A CAT scan confirmed their worst fears… Ryan had a brain tumor. Ryan had cancer.
The words rang in Devon’s ears and yet her son, waiting in the next room, knew nothing. Somehow she’d have to tell him the truth − but how? How does a mother tell her son he has cancer? Devon tried to be brave but her tears gave her away. Suddenly the pace changed, from the slow motion realization of her son’s grim condition, to the fast forward feeling of preparing him for what would come next.
But the Rady Children’s staff and medical team were there for them and wasted no time. Ryan had an MRI, then surgery to drain the fluid that was putting pressure on his brain. Within days, neurosurgeons removed 95% of the tumor with chemotherapy to follow.
Throughout his lengthy treatment, Ryan’s sunny, upbeat personality surprised many people − including his family and the hospital staff. Regularly he would ask his nurses how their weekend was or joke with physicians when they were running behind. And that positive attitude is infectious and remains today.
Through it all, Ryan endured six rounds of chemotherapy and another six weeks of radiation. And then came the news Devon and her family longed to hear… Ryan’s cancer was in remission, he had beaten the odds.
Ryan’s life is now an active one, filled with school, playing little league baseball, riding his bike, dodgeball at the YMCA and playing games with his father Chris and younger brother Logan.
The entire family is thankful for this hopeful outcome and makes a point to appreciate everyday they have together. Whether it’s spending time together enjoying a meal or throwing a baseball around in the front yard, Devon knows they have survived this journey together and continue to thrive as a family.