Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Our Friend Ryan Salmons

Up on J-5 a whole lot of different lives all converge together. We would never know each other had it not been for cancer. It is a very weird feeling to cherish such incredible friendships, while passionately praying to be removed from the one thing that connects us all.

One friendship that is especially meaningful to me is with Ryan Salmons, and his father Brad. It was 11 months ago that 18 year old Ryan showed up for the first time on J-5. He had just been diagnosed with stage IV Rhabdomyosarcoma. We went to meet Ryan, and he is one of those kids that is so full of mischief and humor that you have no choice but to instantly like them.

At the time, Tyler was on the upswing and would be in remission within the next few months. Our finish line was finally starting to come within view. On the other hand, Ryan was just beginning on the path that Tyler had just completed. Meeting with Ryan brought back a lot of very difficult memories for Tyler, but I also think the process really helped him in dealing with all he had been through. Ryan and Brad are always checking on Tyler's progress. They are always remembering him, even inviting him to go to the Blue Jackets game when Ryan meet with Wayne Gretzky.

But more than the events, was the fact that we all share a common enemy. I have a lot of good friends, but Brad Salmons is one of the few that can look me in the eyes and honestly say "I know". Brad is also the type that takes the bull by the horns. He has gone through all the extensive research, and has talked to all the doctors. He studies all the options, and knows the truth of the road ahead. I will always cherish Brad and Ryan's friendship.

I recall a time right after Ryan arrived on J-5. We were in his room laughing and sharing stories about ways to entertain yourself on J-5. Basic things, such as quietly removing your heart monitor as visitors arrive, then faking a seizure as all the alarms go off. Scaring visitors, harassing nurses, and other normal teenage boy adventures. I then told a story from a year ago that involved Brett Workman. As we were all laughing, Ryan looked at me with eyes that cut right to my heart. He asked, "Where is Brett now? Did he make it?" Even in the fun times, the truth of cancer is never far away. It is always there, hiding in the shadows.

Right now Ryan is not doing well. Right now the truth of cancer is not in the shadows. It is in full view. Today the family was faced with a decision that no parent or 18 year old boy should ever be asked. But no one else can make that decision for them. Follow your heart. No one else can tell you what to do. Please pray for our dear friend Ryan, and the entire Salmons family.

The most I can do for a friend is simply to be his friend.
--Henry David Thoreau

Brad and Ryan Salmons

Go here to Ryan's site.