Ryan-250x250Ryan Smart is 4 years old.  He was diagnosed with ALL (Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia) at age 3.  Ryan loves his big sister Mariah, trains, fishing and bike riding.

My name is Charlene and my husband’s name is Chad.  We were the type of people who refused to ask for help because we didn’t want to inconvenience anyone. Our son Ryan was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia on November 5th, 2009 at the age of 3.  He is currently 5 years old and his favorite things in the world next to his big sister Mariah are trains.  At the age of 4 he knew he wanted to be a train engineer. Ryan also enjoys fishing, hiking and riding bikes.

Since Ryan’s diagnosis we have experienced a wide range of situations, emotions and decisions pertaining to his disease. Ryan is mostly a normal 5-year-old Boy who plays, laughs and even gets in trouble. For the first several months of treatment, life seemed ever changing and unstable. It got to a point where we couldn’t remember what our lives were like before he was diagnosed with cancer.  After the first couple of months we had developed a new routine, where his treatment was like clockwork and the clinic visits allowed us the opportunity to know the doctors and nurses very well.  We made a tea set out of play dough, played silly games and pretended we were lions, mice and bears. We watched lots of movies, made new friends and the introduction of Lego’s become a must during Ryan’s treatments.

Our ability to muster a smile was hard to find during Ryan’s many Bone Marrow Aspirations (or as he lovingly calls them his “Bone-and-Arrows), spinal taps and infections equaling long hospital stays early on.  If I were to dwell on the night we received the life changing call and the days following we would not have able to smile at all.  Over a year later after everything that Ryan has overcome, that has changed.  Because of that we have found more strength then we ever know we possessed. We realize just how loved we were by our family and friends as well as those we never knew.