It is an incurable very aggressive stage IV adenocarcinoma esophageal cancer. It has spread to two large metastases in the liver and to a few nearby lymph nodes.
I had no early symptoms other then a little tiredness toward the end of summer, even though this has been growing and spreading within me for 2 years now to get to the stage it is at. I had no chance to catch it sooner without some weird good luck, which doesn't seem to be the sort of luck I have. The chance of getting this cancer at this stage with my lifestyle and age is less then 1 in 500,000. It isn't because of anything I did or didn't do, it just is what it is.
The only symptom that could have alerted me sooner was the fact that I need to drink liquids when eating, or food gets stuck in my throat. I have had that problem since I was a small child, so I didn't have that one opportunity I might have had to catch it sooner. Public service announcement: If food regularly gets stuck in your throat and you have to sip liquids to move it down talk to your doctor. Probably not cancer, but talk to your doctor.
I am starting Chemo on Oct 8th. I will be on two types of strong chemo for the rest of my life. I also have to take very strong blood thinners for the rest of my life. The blood clots in my lungs were my symptom that sent me to hospital, where they investigated and found the cancer in the esophagus. Blood clots are common with late stage cancer (there are other reasons for blood clots, don't panic if you have blood clots, but do see a doctor)
My odds of survival:
The odds below are based on my age, health, my type of cancer and how it has already spread:
With no chemo I would only have a couple months to live.
With chemo I have a 50% chance of living 8 months, and a 20% chance of living 18 months.
The chance of living for 2 years is essentially zero.
I am setting a personal goal of 18 months (and holding options to extend that goal).
One of my chemo treatments is pills that I take everyday. The other is an IV injection that I go in for once every 3 weeks. Chemo affects everyone differently. My Dr. thinks that due to my age and strength there will be a good chance that my symptoms from the pill will be very manageable.
The IV chemo will make me feel awful for a week, then I will have a week of feeling crappy, and then hopefully a week of feeling close to normal.
If it turns out this way, it is my strong hope to come in to teach during my good week, or at least for a few days during those times.
I will be fighting to live, and fighting to have many great days at home with my family, and to have many great days in my classroom. My spirit is strong, my sense of humor is relentlessly terrible and my passion for life, learning and teaching will continue to drive me.
Thank you for all the support I have had and for all the support I know is yet to come.
None of us every know how much time we have. Hug your loved ones.
Ryan has been a Science teacher at Sundre High since 2007. His main area of focus is chemistry and physics, but he has taught many subjects from leadership to astronomy. Ryan was instrumental in receiving many BP Energy grants enabling the school to build it's science program to where it is today. Over the years he has been heavily involved in the May Queen fundraiser, drama, martial arts and coaching.
Ryan has a wife and two boys, one son just graduated and one in grade 11. Their journey will be a difficult one so we hope this can help alleviate some of their stress.
- Caden Surbey
- Jo-Ann Foote
- Courtney Helmer
Organizer and beneficiary
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