Saturday, December 29, 2012

Grade IV Glioblastoma Multiforme

Before I get into my diagnosis, let me preface this all by saying I will survive this.  I will carry on and you all will get sick of me one day.  I am not ignorant and this diagnosis was the complete opposite of what I was hoping for.  I recall reading about Grade IV GBM's (GBM's are what we call them in the biz) and thinking, "Wow, I hope I don't have that."  Well, I do.  This is not easy to say and I know once you all 'google' my diagnosis you will understand why I am not in as high of spirits as I once was.  (I think I am allowed an hour or two of initial shock, but I will get over it.)  This particular cancer has a shelf life of about 1-2 years after diagnosis.  This timeline doesn't even get me to 30 and I am not ok with that.   Listening to the doctor tell me I am a Grade IV Glioblastoma (aka the worst and most aggressive brain cancer known) was like sitting through my death sentence in court.  It was hard- to say the least...  I always tried to mentally prepare myself for the worst case scenario...  But at the same time I always held out the hope that I would have some good news.  Today I got the worst case scenario.  Today I was told that I have the most aggressive form of brain cancer.  A little known fact is that this particular cancer is supposed to only be present in people over the age of 50.  I am 27.  Im nearly half the age I am supposed to be when this cancer is meant to show it's ugly head.  I don't think that this is fair, but nobody ever said life is fair and I am sure as hell not going to start complaining today.  Life is an interesting journey.  It will take you on roads you never pictured nor wished yourself upon.  Once you are on these paths, this is where you are truly tested.  These paths are what define you as a person and dependent upon how we react in times of trial is how I think our lives will one day be gauged.  I am staying strong, I am fighting with every ounce of fiber in my being.  I am 27 years old and I have no intentions of leaving this life this young.
 Life is not easy, life is not clean and life is certainly a mystery.  I will beat this.  I HAVE to beat this.  

Going forward I was not given too many options.  The diagnosis of my 'condition' is pretty much worse case scenario already.  I have seen first hand the effects of chemo and radiation and it is not fun at all.  Given my situation however, there is no other choice.  As I have said since the beginning, I do not have a death wish and if the doctor says I need to do something to survive, I will do it.  I will begin a pretty intense therapy of chemo 7 days a week (Temodar) accompanied with radiation 5 days a week.  This will truly be a test of wills and I know what I will be facing.  It is not going to be fun and I am prepared -literally for the fight of my life.    

I look back on the past 3 months and still do not fully comprehend everything that has happened.  I am still recovering from a pretty invasive brain surgery procedure and on top of that I am now dealing with a diagnosis that could potentially end my life before 30.  If this is not life being life, I do not know what is.  Things I used to stress about seem so mundane now.  I used to worry about things that this morning seem like the most pointless and undeserving subjects.  It is strange how in life we always try our hardest to live, but never truly live.  We get caught up in our careers and our relationships and end up wasting time on stuff that does not really matter.  Life is not about the small things.  Life is about how much you can help other people, life is about what differences you make in other peoples lives and how you positively affect those around you.  Sitting on your couch watching paid programs is not what humans are meant to do.  We need to get out and live a life worth living.  Punching in and out of your 9-5 is not enough.  Going through the motions is not enough.  Taking life by the horns and doing something with the extremely small amount of time you are given on earth is what needs to be done.  Don't wait until you are faced with your own mortality to decide to start living, don't allow yourself excuses to put things off.  Live in the moment and help people.  Help people and by helping others you will see you are truly helping yourself.     

I can not express my gratitude for all of my friends, family and strangers who find my story inspiring. I did not chose this path for myself, but I will bear it as long as I can.  I will stay strong and failure is not an option for me.  I love you all and you guys make me what I am.

Thank you so much.

Here is a small clip of me getting my staples taken out.  Probably one of the more painful things I have been through.  =)
Before and after surgery.  The film on the right shows almost a complete resection of the tumor.  A good start!

You and me both brother!

Waking up this morning I began anew.  Another life started when I was told I might be on my last leg of life at 27, this life is now directed and has meaning.  I plan on living the shit out of life and I won't ever forget to be thankful for every second I have on this strange planet.



  1. Ryan, so sorry to hear about your diagnosis, but if anyone can kick cancer's ass it's you! all my love and prayers are with you.

  2. Ryan,

    I am saddened by the reality. Until one goes through what you have experienced there is no understanding of the that reality.

    This is sobering indeed. I am inspired by your vow to grab hold of life and "live". Having gone through two life-threatening ailments myself, I have found that there is what I call a "gravitational pull" of the old routines of career and responsibilities and others' expectations that can thwart one's efforts to "breakaway".....Remember the ones who love you and take them on this journey. I think you have a remarkable companion and love in your Nastashia. This will be a test for her, as well.

    I remember a bit of lyrics from one of my favorite songs:

    And all of things
    That seemed so important
    Are leaves and are blowing away.


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  4. Ryan, We have a friend who was diagnosed with this same thing over 5 years ago, and is cancer free! Will pray the same for you. Faith and prayer, and good doctors were all part of the miracle. God Bless You! You CAN beat this!

    1. Actually it will be 7 years in a couple of weeks!

    2. cheryl this is Ryans sister Lindsay, i'd be interested in hearing more about your friend. If you can email me at that would be awesome. Thanks

  5. John Ryan......what can I say words can never express what im feeling for you and the coffelt family. I know its been years sh*t.....a bunch of years since we have seen eachother. You are and will always be the strongest kid I know whether its cancer or lindsay and I picking on you, you always fought back and I know u can kick this cancer's butt so fight back Ryan! Im sorry I wasn't able to see you just know my mom and dad and brother always think of you and the fam and their prayers are loud and keep coming everyday.keep your head up as high as ever cause your an amazing person from the moment u were born ,I could never have asked for a better godsister then your sister and for her to have awesome and fun siblings such as u and johanna. God bless you john Ryan and u can beat this! Never give up please! Love you always
    Maria rasidakis

  6. Not the diagnosis I was praying for. Hard road ahead, that's for fucking sure. You will survive this. I wholeheartedly believe it. xo Christina

  7. My love is with you dude! A true inspiration.

    "I've been to hell and back, and let me tell you it was wonderful"

    Positive thoughts your way x

  8. Praying for you Ryan even though I have never met you! xo
    Debi Fettig

  9. Praying for you Ryan even though I have never met you! xo
    Debi Fettig

  10. Hi Ryan, my coach spoke to us in practice before we left to go celebrate our New years Eve today about your condition. He goes by Joe Kurz. He told us to be careful tonight because tommorow is not promised. So I asked him if I can read this blog above me right here. Your words have inspired me to LIVE! Things haven't been going so well lately in my life, and I get a lot of negative thoughts in my head and get stressed over things that now I realize are pointless. You remind a lot of Christopher McCandless, from the book "Into the wild." Thank you for inspiration, I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers, happy New years eve, and a happy new years!

  11. Ryan - this is not what we expected. Stay strong and believe. Your faith and strength will get you through this. There is one thing that you amaze me with is your writing. This gift that you have of being able to put all of your expressions and feelings down are truly amazing. You are right live each day to the fullest! Our family prays for you daily!
    Love The Garretson family

  12. Ryan,

    You've put life in perspective for me so thank you. I can't even imagine what you are going through right now but I think about you and your struggle daily. Time is relative and the time we have on earth cannot be wasted whether we live till 100 or not. It's the relationships we build and connections we make with other people that matter. It's an unfortunate diagnosis but through your battle you are giving other people a great appreciation for life and from what you said an appreciation for your own life as well. I guess that is the silver lining here if there is one. The human body is capable of amazing things and at such a young age I can't help but think you have an advantage of beating this. I will continue to pray and send positive thoughts your way.


  13. Hi Ryan and Natasha,

    I just wanted to let you know that The National Brain Tumor Society is a great resource to use. My best friend from college had a brain tumor as a child and worked for the society for a few years. I'm constantly thinking about you and praying for continued strength as you deal with all that's ahead of you. Much love and support, Amanda McCoy

  14. hi ryan,
    i just wanted to say that your seem like an incredibly strong and amazing person. i stumbled upon this blog as i was doing research for a paper i am writing. (i am a biology student and am writing a paper about glioblastoma multiform) you have inspired me to take life as it comes and never be comfortable with something i'm not completely proud of! as i'm writing my paper i keep thinking about you and that what i'm writing is what you are living. i just wanted to wish you the best in the fight of your life!