Ryder's Remission Run

Just one look at little soon-to-be three-year-old Ryder Conrad and one could walk away with a smile of his or her own. Ryder, like most little boys his age, loves chasing around his two older brothers, sharing toys and food with his baby sister, playing with dinosaurs, dancing and singing to the song, “ABC’s” yet his past couple years have not been an easy feat.

The fun-loving boy was born five weeks earlier than expected on May 15, 2015 and shortly after was diagnosed with chronic kidney disease. He spent three weeks in the neonatal intensive care unit while his parents, Lin and Matt, constantly worried about him. Two months later in August, Ryder was back in the hospital for a direct inguinal hernia repair and, by Christmas Eve, a rogue mass was found near his right adrenal gland. It was confirmed that Ryder’s mass was a tumor, a type of cancer called Neuroblastoma.
Neuroblastoma forms in certain types of nerve tissue, which is most often discovered in the adrenal glands, although in some cases, it can be found in the neck, chest, abdomen, and spine. It is one of the most common types of cancer found among children younger than five years of age. The discovery was not the type of news his parents wanted to hear during the holidays, but they knew Ryder had a tough demeanor and would keep on fighting. And that’s just what he did.

The following year in March, Ryder’s Oncologist requested for an emergency surgery to remove the tumor as it had doubled in size. During this removal, the surgeons discovered Ryder also had an intestinal malrotation. To the relief of his parents, it was quickly corrected. The tumor was later confirmed to be benign and he should only need to schedule regular visits with his Oncology team twice a year to monitor for any recurrence. Despite his medical issues, Ryder learned how to army crawl and took advantage of his newfound skill by moving around the house. Soon, he was learning how to sit up and roll over, and even learning to roll all the balls he could get his little hands on.

By June 2016, Ryder started his physical, occupational, speech, and nutritional therapy, shortly after his first birthday. Then the following month in July, he was diagnosed with esophagitis, an inflammation of tissues in the esophagus that can cause difficulties in swallowing. Taking a note from Dory from Finding Nemo, Ryder just kept on swimming, or in this case, he kept on moving. It was around this time that Ryder outgrew his army-crawling days and replaced it with crawling on all fours. A few months later, he was attempting to stand up and proceeded to take his first few steps. Ryder’s crusade to recovery was still an ongoing battle. In January 2017, during one of his bi-annual scans, a new mass was discovered his spinal column. A subsequent scan in April 2017 showed the mass had not changed in size and so his Oncology team will continue to monitor this along with his abdominal area.

By June 2017, Ryder’s first few steps turned into walking. Now, the little guy was able to roam around as he pleases. Finally, in August 2017, Ryder and his family could breathe again as they learned Ryder was officially declared in remission status, which meant the mass on the spinal column showed no change, or no growth. These past three years tested both Ryder and his family, but at the end of the day, he just keeps on smiling. It is the type of positive attitude that has helped his family get through his medical battles.

None of that stopped anyone from enjoying the little things and grand adventures in life. In October 2017, Ryder was able to experience his first trip to Disney World, where he met Mickey and Friends who he absolutely adores. Five months later in March 2018, Ryder’s genetics testing came back normal, and he was cleared to start preschool in May. For Ryder, he only looks forward to living a typical life of any young boy – playing with his siblings and solving shapes and animal puzzles one piece at a time. And of course, taking the time to learn how to babble from “Mommy” and “Daddy”; he already has “No” down just fine!

When May rolls around this year, Ryder will be celebrating his third birthday. His story to recovery continues with the love and support of his two older brothers, younger sister, parents, extended family, and friends and colleagues of the family. All of which, his parents are truly thankful for. Without them, it would be nearly impossible to get from one day to the next.

Mom (Lin) and Dad (Matt) will be running the Chicago J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge on Thursday May 24, 2018 to raise money to donate to Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, so that they can continue to provide the same care Ryder was fortunate enough to receive.

Make a difference in the lives of the more than 173,000 patients treated at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago each year. Support my efforts with Team Lurie Childrens by making a gift today. Every dollar raised means a brighter and healthier future for our children.

Here are just a few ways your donations could help:
$35 can provide a comfort item for a premature infant to ensure the smallest and most fragile babies heal and grow faster.
$60 can help provide inpatient entertainment and distractions to help patients reduce stress and have fun while undergoing treatment.
$120 can help provide small lab supplies for one of the hospital’s clinical trials to ensure our children have access to the latest treatments and therapies.
$240 can help provide supplies for the Lurie Children’s classroom so that children in the hospital can continue their education.

All donations are tax-deductible and will be acknowledged by Lurie Children’s Foundation.
On behalf of the patients and families of Lurie Children’s, thank you for your support!

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