Follow along and read about how Ryan spent his final days surrounded by those he loved the most... his FAMILY.

You can follow my blog at: Our life in Letters to Ryan

January 19, 2010

PLEASE HELP RYAN- One last push...

Please help in getting this message out to friends and family in hopes that they may know someone who can help.



My name is Ryan Hess and I was diagnosed on June 12, 2009 with a rare and aggressive form of Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Over the past 7 months I have received enough donated leave from federal employees to help me keep a paycheck and health insurance throughout 3 rounds of chemotherapy and most recently a bone marrow transplant. After meeting with my Dr. last week (1/12/10), he said that I could possibly be back to work in July.

I have finished one year of residency at the Veteran's Hospital in Tucson, Arizona. All of your generosity with donating leave and spreading the word has kept food on our table and kept a lot of stress out of our lives during this time. I am now doing well enough to watch our two children so that my wife can work part time to help with the bills. As difficult as it is for our family to have to ask for help, we have realized that we must do so at this time so that we can keep our health insurance and so that I can hopefully continue with work later this year. Thank you so far for your help and prayers. We are beating this together!

We were told that any federal employee (ie: civilian military- not active duty, Border Patrol, DEA, FBI, IRS, Dept of Justice, EPA etc. EXCEPT Post Office employees and active duty military) can donate vacation time to be used as sick leave for another Federal employee.
We would be so thankful for any number of extra paid days we can accumulate.
Thank you so much.

How can you help if you ARE a Federal Employee?

Go to your HR department and request to donate leave to Ryan Hess who works for the VA. (Your HR person will know the form that needs to be filled out- each Federal agency has their own form to donate leave)

Once filled out and signed, the HR person will then need to fax or e-mail the form to:

Brenda Joy - Benefits Specialist (TUCSON V.A.)
Phone #: (520) 792-1450 x 4409
Fax # : (520) 629-1849 attn: Brenda Joy

E-Mail :

ALSO, for those who are federal employees, please print out this message and post it in break/lunch rooms to help get the word out as well as emailing it to co-workers!

How to help if you are NOT a Federal Employee:

PASS this along to ANYONE and EVERYONE that you know and then ask them to pass the message along. Post it on blogs, Facebook, e-mail...whatever you can think of.

Thanks again everyone- this will help SO much!

If you would like this message e-mailed to you, please e mail me

January 14, 2010


Today, Ryan will be getting his Hickman triple catheter taken out... in an hour actually!

Is he excited? Yes and no.

Yes, because it will allow him to do so much more:

-Take baths and swim
-Move his arm without feeling like he will rip his line out of his chest
-Sleep comfortably on his stomach

And I will be selfish and say one reason why I am excited:

-So when we cuddle, I can put my head on EITHER side of his chest, without accidentally pulling on his line or hurting him.

Why No?

Because really, who LIKES getting pricked with a needle?!?!?!?!?!

So, here's one last look at the cath (or his third "teet with three udders" as me and him referred to it) that enabled his chemo, meds and blood draws to be done with so much ease and accessibility:
(side note: i LOVE the picture on the top right here. Look at that happy, HEALTHY face- LOVE him!)
It's gonna be a bittersweet moment when its gone.
(and maybe a little painful too- that's 4 months of scar tissue and muscle forming around it)
Just one more step towards FREEDOM!

Can I just say one more thing. Thank you all for your comments, it really does make Ryan's day reading all the wonderful things you say. When he was in transplant and undergoing chemo he slept a lot, anywhere from 20-22 hours a day and in the limited time he was awake, it was those blog comments (and seeing his family) that brought happiness into his heart, especially when it was too painful to smile!

I know words will NEVER express how thankful we are and how blessed we feel for all that has been done on behalf of our family. Our hearts are extremely full of gratitude, hope and love.
Thank YOU!
***We LOVE you TEAM RYAN supporters***

January 12, 2010

Best news EVER!

We went into clinic for the usual appointment to be followed with an appointment with Dr. Yeager- Ryan's transplant doc.

The labs went quick, they drew the usual 5 or so vials of blood, flushed and re-capped his lines and then told us to wait there until Dr. Yeager was ready. We waited...and waited... and waited...

Dr. Yeager was REALLY behind schedule and we were VERY anxious.

The entire time we sat waiting for someone to say SOMETHING about his tests...NOTHING.

The nurses came in to talk about Ryan getting his line taken out and that he would be "discharged" from their care at UMC back to his primary oncologist.

Did this mean the news was good?!?!?! Why else would they talk about getting his line taken out and going back to his primary oncologist?

Well, after waiting 1.5 hours, it was time to go down to see Dr. Yeager.

We weren't scared for the news at all, although anxious to hear the news, we both really were at peace.


So Dr. Yeager comes in and tells Ryan that his labs look GREAT and that Ryan looks GREAT!
He then discussed some of the things Ryan is dealing with: the cold, edema (fluid retention), vomiting (unfortunately yes) and all the meds he is currently taking.

He then says,

"Have you heard the GOOD news?"

Ryan and I both smiled, and looked an one another and said, "No. But we are REALLY excited to hear it!"

Dr. Yeager then says:
"Well, I hate to keep you waiting...
But the PET/CAT scan is negative! The ONLY thing the report confirms is that you have a cold (he laughs... we laugh). It says, 'there is inflammation in the sinuses.' Isn't that funny, it's telling us you have a COLD! BUT there are NO traces of cancer there."

He then flips the page and says, "And for your bone marrow...ALL NEGATIVE! You still have 100% donor marrow and NO signs of cancer! Wonderful...Wonderful news! You are doing WONDERFULLY. Things are looking good."

Ry got teary eyed and I cried.
We just sat there so happy and with even BIGGER smiles on our faces then the last time.

Our hearts have continually been filled with so much gratitude for prayers that have been heard and prayers that have been answered..we have witnessed a miracle take place.

Ryan was given a 35% chance to live and now he is in REMISSION!

Dr. Yeager answered some questions that we had (I will get to that later) and then proceeded to tell us what lies ahead:

Ryan will be able to get his line out (on THURSDAY to be exact).
Ryan will now be seen by his primary oncologist (Dr. Ahmad @ Arizona Oncology)
Ryan will only have to get labs done every 2-3 weeks

His NEXT round of tests are at his 6 month mark, which is mid/late March. He will have ANOTHER bone marrow biopsy, another CAT/PET scan and a lung function test (chemo can mess up your lungs, so this tests for how well your lungs work).

He said that around 6 months they will start to taper Ryan off his immunosuppressants and hopefully if Ryan continues to do well, he should be able to get back to work around June/July.

Then his NEXT set of tests are at 1 year (Sept), so another bone marrow biopsy, more scans and then Ryan gets his BABY SHOTS! Yup, that's right, he has to get them ALL over again!

We thanked Dr. Yeager and he humbly said, "It's NOT me, you were the one fighting. You have put in the hard work. You have been through so much. It's YOU... not me."

Thank you Dr. Yeager
He is AWESOME. Such a GREAT Doctor. He shows so much compassion for his patients and has such a love for the work. We are so blessed to be here in Tuscon, AZ to be surrounded by such a wonderful team of medical experts who love and excel at what they do.

Thank YOU!

Ryan then had to get some blood work done to prepare him for his line getting pulled on Thursday. The sad thing is, they had to prick his poor little arm.

He better get used to it because without his line, his only choice is a needle and he'll be getting pricked at EVERY visit from here on out.

Ryan isn't looking forward to the needle pricks, but he SURE is excited to get rid of his line.


What wonderful news to begin our 2010 year

Thank you to EVERYONE that has supported and prayed for Ryan.
We couldn't have done this without you!



January 6, 2010


January 2, 2010 marked DAY 100 post transplant.

What does THAT mean?

It means it's time for all the testing.

Yesterday Ryan had his CAT and PET scan done.

Today he has his bone marrow biopsy. He is having it done at the hospital under conscious sedation- so hopefully THIS time, he wont FEEL or really remember a thing!

So... here's to GOOD results!

We meet with Dr. Yeager (transplant doc) next Tuesday for ALL the results.

Everyday is a day to be THANKFUL!

LOVE to all for your continued support!