Our son Ryan was diagnosed with stage 4 Neuroblastoma in 2004. In 2007, my wife Missy was diagnosed with stage 2 triple negative breast cancer. On July 8th, 2009, Missy lost her battle to this horrible disease. 2 days later, on July 10th, Ryan also lost his. Together forever, they both watch over our family now from the heavens above.
Below is our families journey through Ryan's treatments, along with the joy and laughter we tried to instill into our daily lives. Those days helped us all cope with the pain and suffering that comes with cancer and it's deadly treatments. Both Missy and Ryan endured high doses of chemo, radiation and surgeries. Over 150 nights spent in the hospital and many, many more days. More transfusions than I could count. Yet both Missy and Ryan took on each day with a positive attitude and warm smile for all their friends. We miss them terribly. They will always be a shining light in our lives.
After the last two years with us at the house, Missy and Ryan were moved to their final resting place, together, at Barrow Memorial Gardens. We had a small family service. They are at peace for eternity beside Missy's brother Buck. You can find their marker at back right hand side of the cemetery in the Bailey section.
Our family and friends have viewed a portion of our lives that was, and has, been very emotionally and even physically demanding over the last 6 years. It is hard to fathom that Missy and Ryan had to endure such a devastating disease during what was supposed to be a long, fun and loving life. Heidi, Will and I have stepped very carefully along our new path, grieving our loss...remembering their beautiful lives...yet always moving forward. Missy and I had long discussions together about life and death. What to do if one of us went on before the other. Our children's health and well being during the years of their treatment and of course now, are always the most important consideration. We worked very hard even during the most difficult times, to keep injecting lots of family time, love, and fun. I am no Dr Phil, I don't have all the answers, just trying to be a good person, a good dad, and hold the memories of Missy and Ryan close to my heart. We all miss them, we all know they had so much to offer to everyone, even in this cruel world we live in where there is not always a cure to keep our loved ones with us. A year has come and gone, their memory will not fade. They are together in a safe place, watching over us and smiling as we continue to celebrate the short time we were given with them. I am thankful for that every moment. Recognizing the anniversary of our loss, I have chosen to say Good Bye and write this one last post. I appreciate the thousands of new friends, some whom I have never met, that followed our journey through Ryan's site. We felt your presence, prayers, and at times reached out to you for help. Our family has received hundreds of cards and letters, and many generous donations to charities near and dear to our hearts. Words of compassion spoken so eloquently in a letter just today, a very kind follower reflected on all he had felt that Ryan and Missy changed for the positive in his life. That makes me very happy ... Take care and with lots of love,
The staff and students at Missy's and the kid's school, Bethlehem Elementary, unveiled a memorial today of a beautiful tree and a plaque bearing their names. Thank you to everyone that was able to make it out, especially Matt and Max, two of Ryan's closest friends :(
We kept busy this weekend which was very nice. This afternoon Heidi Will and I grilled out then sent a couple messages via balloon delivery to heaven for Missy's Birthday and Mother's day. Missy loved birthdays!!! We had an awesome ice cream birthday cake for desert. Missy's mom, sisters and niece came over to check in on the three of us.
Thank you all for checking in on us, we really appreciate your thoughts. ;)
Lauren's Run had an excellent turn out yesterday. What a lot of fun !!
I need to thank all of Team SuperRyan'ssponsors and Team Members. You all did an amazing job !! So much so that our team placed 3rd in the fund raiser and on top of that...Will placed 1st in his division for the 5K !!! 20:05 That is a great time (5min faster than me:)
Thank you to all the supporters of Team SuperRyanfor this Sunday's annual Lauren's Run event. This audio below is Missy and Ryan's interview with WSB radio...It breaks my heart. Cancer is a horrible struggle.Missy would stay so positive in the midst of having all the odds stacked against her. She was deeply involved in raising money and awareness for childhood cancer research. Even through her own agonizing treatments, it was still about the children of all our fellow fighters.
Her wish was for us all to live a happy, healthy and productive life. To remember her, and keep fighting for the CURE. This, we can do.
Junior/Senior prom night was Saturday. Heidi was as gorgeous as ever ! The group of 16 rented a party bus to chauffeur them around. They started out at the Georgia Club for pictures, then off to Athens for dinner and a night of dancing. They all made it back here by midnight for the after party. Those crazy kids got into the pool...Brrr !!!!!! They had the Jacuzzi and a bonfire to warm them up. All was wrapped up by 4am.
Prior to Heidi's after party, we had had lots of our friends over on a beautiful Saturday afternoon for dinner...and as you can see above, a little singing also !!! It has been soooo long since we have done anything like that here. It was very nice do it again. Thank you to all our friends for coming over :-D
If you saw a blue streak whipping by you a couple times this weekend, it was Christina and I riding hard on our racing bikes !
Will is deep into this years soccer season and you can tell by looking at the picture, is experiencing a major growth streak! He is doing so well in everything, I am very thankful. We are all finally getting excited about our Southern Caribbean cruise. Flying to San Juan on the 17th, leaving port on the 18th for week long vacation. It is going to be very relaxing !
My apologies for the hiatus but we have simply been staying busy with sports, school and work....and few trips back and forth to New York on weekends ;-)
Pictures and memories are simply a bandaid on the broken hearts we all still have. I have so many of both. Most of the time they bring smiles to my face but they also bring sudden and utter sadness, like falling off a cliff.
The 6 months that have passed have felt like forever. I wish I could hold Ryan and Missy both, I wish for many things...
The only one I have some control of is making sure Heidi and Will continue to be happy and healthy. To make sure they know Missy and Ryan are in awesome hands and that they are watching over us. Heidi and Will have pressed on with unbelievable strength. I am so proud of them. They bring laughter into what could have been a very quiet and solemn house. I can't thank them enough for that. They mean the world to me, as do the precious memories of Missy and Ryan.
We were lucky to have made it here at all. We had forgotten a passport at home so we ended up missing our 8am flight out due to the extra time in the car. With all the fights booked for the next couple days, some artful negotiating and a few hundred dollars, got us on a later flight that day bound for Canada. Arriving safe and sound, we have already taken in our first day on the mountain. We decided on snow boarding lessons and tested our ability to board. The three of us agree, skiing is for us. We are all a little sore after our snow boarding experience. We have plenty of activities planned over the next week. Lots of fun in store :)
Two weeks until we take off for Vancouver Island ! We are looking forward to the visit and some skiing. The snow on Mt. Washington is deep already. Heidi, Will and I put up the tree in record time today. I must say it looks pretty good !!!
I am not thankful that cancer has taken the lives of Missy and Ryan. I am not thankful that billions of dollars later, her breast cancer was not curable. I am not thankful for the minuscule amount of money that is available to research far better children's cancer treatments. I am not thankful my house is spotless all the time. I am not thankful my life is so simple. I am not thankful that I can hardly see this darn keyboard right now!!... I am thankful for Heidi an Will. I am thankful for the unbelievable support I have from Missy's and my family. I am thankful for all of our friends that continue to support us and keep our lives light hearted and full of smiles. I am thankful for Missy's insistence that her family moves forward, and treasure the great memories we all made together while she worked tirelessly to built the strong foundation that is serving us so well today and will through all the years to come. I am thankful I have someone very close to me. Someone I can talk to every day, not only about Missy and Ryan, but how our day went and what the future holds. That has been an unexpected blessing. So...thankful ?...yes... and no.
Now as we say at the Lighthouse.....LLLLLLLETS EAT !!!!!!! Happy Thanksgiving to all, Les, Heidi and Will
Heidi and a few of her friends were inducted into the National Honor Society last night. I am thankful for Heidi continuing to stay focused, cheerful, helpful and strong. These years are trying in any girls life, even without all the added emotional stress she carries. I am so very proud of her...( you to Will :) Les
It was a gorgeous weekend in Atlanta. We managed to get all of our fall yard work wrapped up. Tons of leaves removed, grass cut, pool closed for the winter, garage and dog kennel neat and tidy and three soccer games. Heidi had taken the ACT test two Saturdays ago and took the SAT test this Saturday. 5 hours Ugh ! She was pretty confident she had done well on both.
Kristen called with extra tickets for Sunday nights Thrashers/Blues game so the kids and I met Jean and Steve's family, Kristen and Mike's family to watch Atlanta kick St. Louis's butt !!!! Thank you Kristen :) We all had so much fun !
I have been trying to figure out what to do that will be fun for the dinner that was lucky to be the high bidder on with "super pitcher" Tom Glavine and his family. I have a couple ideas in the works that will hopefully turn the whole thing into a big party, that would be awesome :) Keep your fingers crossed !
As time presses on, so are we. The kids and I stay extremely busy. They have been such a blessing to me it's hard to describe. The love we had for Missy and Ryan has never left our minds, nor will it ever. The transition into our new lives has been one of great memories, relived day after day mostly while sitting at the dinner table or watching our favorite shows. We know and can feel them watching over us. Cheering us on. Moving us forward. It is a good, warm, loving feeling. It makes me smile. I pray I can continue to lift up Heidi and Will and never let them down. That is of the up most importance to me.
Heidi looked as beautiful as ever for Home Coming. Her only wish was for more student input for song selection!!!! Things don't change because I can remember the exact same feeling at our dances, Ha !!
We stopped by our usual Halloween haunt, Missy's brother Walt's house. They get hundreds of little trick or treaters each year. Walt and Sarah put on a great party, very fun. Heidi had her own later with scary movies.
We have just two more weekends of soccer then it's finally over. You always look forward to both the start of the season and THE END !! This also means the beginning of Basketball season for Will. Ugh...
We are really excited to be going back to Vancouver Island for Christmas. Love skiing, roasting oysters on an open fire, cracking a Miller or two with old, but dear friends. Can't wait !!
I have managed to get out a couple times, with plans for a couple more. Lots of fun stuff to do !! We have also booked a cruise over the kids spring break. It's a long time away but still something to look forward to.
Thank you to all our friends for keeping us in your thoughts, its a comforting feeling. Les, Heidi and Will
We opted for Universal Studios and Adventure Island today instead of another water park. (check out Will's expression while looking at the two to his right)
With express passes we were able to get in every ride at both parks, at least once by 6pm.
We all had a great time flying from coaster to coaster and a great lunch at Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville.
We will head home first thing in the morning. My cousin Kim is in town so I hope to catch dinner with him in Atlanta tomorrow night. I know Rick has been doing a good job with Balto but I'm sure Balto is ready for Will to get home and clean out his pen!!
The kids had such a good time. Everything went so smoothly. I am thankful we could get this trip in and give them a well deserved, fun break :)
Our first day in Orlando was pretty laid back. Kim and Tim Hudson (Go Braves!) were kind enough to let the kids and and I use their house here in Celebration Fl. It is the perfect time of year here, 90 and sunny :)
The kids and I headed out to Boggy Creek for a high speed ride on an air boat. Ever since watching Gentle Ben on TV over 30 years ago, I've always wanted to do that. They are very fun boats...loud, but fun!! We saw plenty of gators. Young ones. Capt. Jeff grabbed one and let Will hold it.
Then we proceeded to get our obligatory Polaroid with this 3 year old with his poor little mouth taped shut. I asked...but they wouldn't remove it. We spent the rest of the day messing around at the pool. We are going to Wet n Wild water park today and Disney's Blizzard Beach tomorrow. I'm guessing lots of stairs. I need it after all this restaurant food !!
Lynn Crow Photography donates countless hours of her professional services to benefit CURE and also the families dealing with childhood cancer. Her link above, are pictures from the Quiet Heroes Luncheon. Awesome job Lynn !! Thank you so much. Les, Heidi and Will
What a tremendous day at the Hyatt Plaza downtown Atlanta where Cure Childhood Cancer held their 5th annual, tribute to Quiet Heroes. This luncheon was Missy's favorite event of the year. Mom's of children with cancer are honored while the fund raiser pulls in a few hundred thousand dollars. Thank you again for all of you that have donated to this charity on behalf of Missy and Ryan. This year was dedicated to the two of them. Kristin, thank you for all of your kind words. Jill, you were awesome as the Hostess. I know Missy was smiling! Soooo many of Missy's friends came up to me to offer condolences and check on Heidi, Will and myself. I must say that it was definitely my lucky day. I had a full table of all of our friends. I also was lucky enough to have one of my raffle tickets drawn and won a new 54"plasma TV . I was also the lucky bidder for my family to join Tom and Chris Glavine's family for dinner. I am really looking forward to that. We are not sure where we will do dinner but I'm holding out for just grilling burgers in the backyard !!!! Lynn Crow photography took a million pictures so I'm hoping to grab a couple and put them up here soon!! Missy had a chair at the mothers table and some of her longtime friends wrote and signed a guest book for her. It was a very special gesture. Thank you so much for including Missy ! Thank you so much Kristin and Ginger for inviting me to help attempt to fill her void. I really appreciate the opportunity to participate. Now if we can just get the Foxworthy PSA's on the networks, that will really help the CURE push !!!!!!! Still counting our blessings... Les, Heidi and Will
Missy.......... Forever In Our Hearts .......... Ryan
May 9 1963 - July 8 2009.......... July 26 1998 - July 10 2009
This picture really captures the true face of childhood cancer. Missy, wanting to drink up as much of Ryan as she can, while she can... Ryan expressionless, going through the motions, just as he was told to during every procedure we'd ever asked him to endure. He was always so brave. I hated having to tell him "hang on, just a couple more minutes, you can do it, you're doing so well...." it was torture. He would look at me through his tears, his eyes saying, "why are you doing this to me" yet he would never utter a word. It makes me so sad I just can't bear it...
We have two seats available at our table for the Quiet Heroes Luncheon, 11 am Saturday the 19th. Great Food, Great People and a Great Cause. This year is special for me, not because it's my first time, but because this Quiet Heroes Luncheon is being dedicated toMissy. There are unbelievable items to be bid on and raffled off. Perfect for early Christmas gifts !!! Seats are $125 each. It's going to be fun :) Check the link above for all the information. Les
The second installment from 11Alive News features Elle Rivers and son Jake also more on Quiet Heroes. Tomorrow, the segment will focus more on the Cure Childhood Cancer organization. Very nice job this morning Elle !!! This is one of our pics from our PF Chang's lunch yesterday. What a great time with Lisa, Lynn, me, Kristen and Ginger. Fantastic gifts :) My turn next ! Wade and I caught up over a couple of beers at Taco Mac. I got home at 5 and Heidi and Will had cake cards and gifts waiting for me. They are the best !!!! Rick, Barre and I took the kids and their friends to dinner in Athens and slammed a Raffertini or two !! Thanks for driving Rick ;) Very nice Birthday, thank you all for the notes, emails, calls and most importantly prays for our family. Les, Heidi and Will
11 Alive News and Jill Becker kicked off "Childhood Cancer Awareness Month" this morning with the Becker's telling their story of their son Matt, and his battle with cancer at age three. Matt was a treasured friend of Ryan's. Matt has chosen to give back to other children that are stricken with this horrible disease by volunteering with Camp Sunshine. The two quickly became good buddies at camp. Matt was nice enough to remember Ryan this morning while talking about his experiences during his fight and how it has effected his life. His mom Jill, was a friend to Missy. She graciously lends her name and time to keep waging war on childhood cancer even after being away from the front lines for 18 years. There are many caring people in this tight knit community that work tirelessly to keep children's cancer awareness alive and raise the research money that is desperately needed. Thank you to Jill and her wonderful son Matt for all they do :) Les
Lots of play time and just enough left for lawn and laundry. We've had a pretty good weekend. :-) I'm still scheduled for lunch in Atlanta on Monday, then out for dinner in Athens later on that evening. Looking forward to it all tomorrow.
WSB'sannual Aflac Cancer Center Care-a-thon is under way. Ryan has participated in this, among others, fundraiser over the years. His friend Kenneth and mom Anastasia have remembered Ryan on the WSB site. Thank you Anastasia for that :) Click on Kenneth M at the bottom of the WSB link to read Kenneth's heartbreaking story. We wish them great days, no pain and many smiles. Cancer is a terrible horrible thing... Les
Jill Becker and 11Alive News will airing a tribute to Quiet Heroesstarting Monday morning at 6:45am. Jill's son Matt was a good friend and a camp counsellor of Ryan's. Matt was one of the reasons Ryan looked forward to summer camp so much. If you can't tune in, I'm sure it will be on their web site at 11alive.com The luncheon is happening Sept. 19th. This is one of the largest fundraisers for Cure of the year. From everything Missy used to tell me about going in the past, it's a good time with lots of cool and unique items to bid on. Bring your check book and I'll see you there !
I'm looking forward to a "birthday lunch" this Monday with some good friends . I'm thinkin it's going to be fun ! :)
We have been settling into the new routine. Staying busy doing all the things that need to get done and deep into the new soccer season. We got Will's Pass Port application filled out and turned in today. We are going to Vancouver Island for Christmas and a little skiing. Smith and Julie are going to come with us. Very excited about the trip ! I'm going to Vegas over the long weekend to hang out with Jimmy and his family. No partying though !! (ha!) We are also planning a few days in Orlando to hit the Water Parks. We had to ditch them the last time we were there so this will be a make up trip.
Heidi and Will have been sooo helpful to me. Above, Heidi is whipping up a batch of her famous brownies ! She is such a smart, intuitive and resourceful young lady. I'm very lucky to have both of them. Very lucky to have great memories of Ryan and Missy to get me through the slow times and evenings. I have to say marriage is far better than being single, I highly recommend it....you singles will thank me for that little piece of great advice ! ;-) Well, I'm falling asleep here !!! Good night to all of our family and friends. Les, Heidi and Will