This past Tuesday evening I entered Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston to visit some new-found friends of mine who have been faced with a tough life challenge. I walked out of that hospital with a newer sense of what it means to fight for what you love.
Rex Ryan was diagnosed with Stage 4 Neuroblastoma Cancer on September 12, 2013, at the age of 18 months. Since then, he has had major surgery, multiple rounds of chemo, at least 16 blood transfusions and has spent most of his days in Dell Children’s Hospital. He is probably one of the cutest little guys I have ever seen and a real fighter.
I had planned on simply dropping off some food for Rex’s mom Lesley. Rex was having a pretty rough day before my arrival and Lesley felt like the timing might not be good. Upon arriving on the 8th floor where Rex had come to occupy, I asked the nurse to please make sure Lesley got the food. Immediately, she moved to Rex’s door. Shortly after Lesley popped out. Rex had fallen asleep and the timing was a bit better.
Rex’s hospital room had been carefully transformed into something much less ‘hospital’ and much more like a little home. There were electric lighted candles, pictures of family and newly gifted stuffed animals strewn about. The bed had been repositioned and much care had been taken to make the room as loving and comfortable as possible. Rex laid sleeping on the couch area with a warm blanket pulled around him. He looked peaceful in the moment on what was a pretty painful and uncomfortable day for him. Lesley and I talked about his medical schedule, the medications he was receiving and the upcoming procedure that would take place in a couple days. We talked about her husband, Casey and her daughter, Elle, the travel back and fourth from Austin, sleeping in a hospital and everything in life that has been turned upside down because of cancer. Simply witnessing your child dealing with so much pain is a heartache no parent ever wants to bear. Yet in the midst of all the struggles and adversity that had mounted on that boy and his family, I was presented with this incredible example of hope and unwavering positive attitude. Talking with Lesley, you learn real quick that no adversity, when it comes to your child, can not be overcome; that no low blood counts can’t be brought back up; that no cancer can’t be beat; hair grows back, tissue heals, pain goes away and Spring always follows Winter. Spring always does follow Winter.
I departed from the room as Rex was still sleeping next to a large stuffed animal. I said goodbye and walked through sleepy hallways and down a quiet elevator. Just before I passed through the doors of the hospital I stopped and said a prayer for Rex. I prayed for his health, for growing older and for Spring. I prayed for the Ryan family and that they keep up the fight. The entire experience reminded me that nothing in this world is worth fighting for more than our children and that the most important things we have are always being tucked in by us at night. Make the most of each and every day and never-ever stop loving them.
Thank you Leslie, Rex, Casey and Elle for inspiring me to be a better parent.