In 2007, Ryan Lee began feeling significantly – and unusually – fatigued while in Colorado for job training. After a trip to the Emergency Room, Ryan was diagnosed with a mild case of pneumonia accompanied by bronchitis – and sent home with antibiotics. Several weeks later – and four days after his 19th birthday – he woke up to find blood on his sheets, which led him to return to the ER for a re-evaluation. This time, the physician studied Ryan’s blood sample and diagnosed him with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) – a cancer of the blood and bone marrow. Since ALL quickly worsens if not treated, that day was filled with many “firsts” for Ryan – his first time in an ambulance, jet and helicopter – to get him to The University of Colorado Cancer Center in Denver.
Shortly after he was admitted, his mom was on a plane headed to meet him. A self-proclaimed “momma’s boy”, Ryan finally had the comfort he needed to fight his disease. Over a period of five weeks, Ryan received numerous rounds of several different chemotherapies until he was stable enough to be transported to his hometown of Jonesboro, Arkansas. Only a short drive from home, Ryan continued his cancer journey under the care of Arnel Pallera, MD, Hematologist and Medical Oncologist here at West Cancer Center. Following a bone marrow biopsy, lumbar puncture and much evaluation, Dr. Pallera prepared a treatment plan involving rounds of chemotherapy coupled with steroids to kill diseased cells and reduce adverse reactions to the chemotherapy drug.
As a result of Dr. Pallera’s treatment plan, Ryan achieved remission, continuing maintenance therapies and treatment until 2011. While he has faced – and continues to face – the many obstacles encountered by oncology patients on long-term therapies, he is grateful – and appreciative – of the ability to see the other side of this diagnosis. And even with a future facing long-term recovery from those treatment side effects, Ryan knows he has played a role in informing future treatment for others who may face this diagnosis.
“Ever since the day I was diagnosed, I’ve always said if cancer could take me and cure everyone else, I would let it happen,” said Ryan.
Meet Our Fighters
These are real stories of bravery, the chronicles of men and women who found the strength to fight on and the people who stood by them. West Cancer Center brings the very best technology, research and doctors to Memphis so patients can recover close to home. To read more stories like Ryan’s, click here.
Share Your Story
With every fighter there is a story, and with every story, an inspiration to fight on. Your story can be the difference in the life of another cancer fighter like you. We invite patients of the West Cancer Center, past and present, to share stories here. If you would like to share your story, please contact West Cancer Center’s Marketing Department.