Who: When Jenna Evans looks at her son, Ryan, she sees a hard-working and loyal but fun-loving kid. The family-oriented 17-year-old lives in Throop with his mom, dad Mike and sister Hannah, and he’s a typical busy high school senior, with places on the honor roll and the varsity golf, basketball and baseball teams at Mid Valley Secondary Center.
What: In late October, Ryan learned he has an aggressive form of non-Hodgkins lymphoma. “The initial treatment is hard and fast,” his mother explained, and involves several months of chemotherapy at Janet Weis Children’s Hospital in Danville. Each round involves spending six days in the hospital, during which he gets a “cocktail” of five drugs delivered intravenously and by spinal tap. He then spends 14 days recovering at home before returning to the hospital to repeat the cycle. Once he finishes chemo, doctors will evaluate his progress and decide what to do next.
This has turned Ryan’s life upside-down, his mom said. While his classmates look forward to applying to colleges and graduating from high school, he fights for his life. “He is isolated from both his friends and extended family because he is immunocompromised and we are in the middle of a pandemic,” Jenna Evans explained. “He is suffering the harsh physical effects of his chemotherapy regimen, all while trying to maintain his workload in a virtual school setting.”
At home, his parents work to keep a safe, germ-free environment for Ryan, all while managing his medicines; taking him to medical appointments, including those frequent trips to Danville; and trying to maintain a sense of normalcy for Hannah, who Jenna Evans said “has taken on a lot of responsibility for herself as we are focusing on Ryan’s treatment.”
Why: Ryan’s family has to pay not only his medical bills and related travel expenses but also for services they can no longer do on their own at the moment, such as prepared meals, lawn care, snow removal, housekeeping and Instacart shopping. The public can donate to the family through a GoFundMe page, “Rally for Ryan.”
In her own words: “A cancer diagnosis brings with it a physical and emotional burden for the entire family. Navigating a treatment plan while simultaneously maintaining the day-to-day happenings of life can feel almost impossible at times. Financial donations ease some of this burden by ensuring that the costs associated with Ryan’s care are covered. However, all support, even in the form of simple well-wishes and prayers, are a blessing to Ryan.” — Jenna Evans, mother
Caitlin Heaney West is the content editor for Access NEPA and oversees the Early Access blog in addition to working as a copy editor and staff writer for The Times-Tribune. An award-winning journalist, she is a summa cum laude graduate of Shippensburg University and also earned a master’s degree from Marywood University. Caitlin joined the Times-Shamrock family in 2009 and lives in Scranton. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; 570-348-9100 x5107; or @cheaneywest