National News

Ryker's Road: A Family Walks Together Through Childhood Cancer

Posted 11:22 p.m. Saturday

— They are the words that nobody ever wants to hear. The doctor walks into the room and says that you have cancer. Just the thought of the words will send a shock wave through a persons body, but imagine if you are a parent being told that your two year old child has the fearful and dreadful disease. That is exactly what happened to Jake and Krysten Sheffield in June.

It was on June 13, 2017 when Jake and Krysten discovered their world would soon be turned upside down. The ear, nose and throat doctor came into the room and told the Sheffield's that they would need to get their two year old son, Ryker to Texas Childrens Hospital in Houston. In the short span of only 24 hours, Jake and Krysten would find their lives changed forever and Ryker's road to beating the dreaded disease had began.

The diagnosis that Ryker had been given was T Cell lymphoblastic Lymphoma. The type of cancer that Ryker has been diagnosed with is the most common of childhood cancer. The diesease occurs when a bone marrow cell develops errors in it's DNA. Symptoms of lymphoblastic lymphoma include enlarged lymph nodes, bruising and fever. The treatments for children like little Ryker are difficult and for young Ryker his road to beating this disease has just started.

When Ryker arrived at Texas Childrens Hospital in Houston, the medical team treating Ryker discovered that he had a tumor large enough to cover his entire chest cavity and kidneys. But beyond that, doctors would discover a more pressing problem, one that could suffocate him within days if the tumor could not be shrunk. The tumor had almost a full inch over his trachea. That is when the skilled team of doctors, nurses and specialists threw themselves all in to care for this little guy. Through the hands of a skilled treatment staff, doctors used chemotherapy and within only two days, the tumor had shrunk enough that it was no longer an immediate threat for young Ryker.

After all of that, the family received another blow that would be equally as devastating. Doctors had discovered that Ryker was suffering a form of leukemia in his blood. Either way you look at it, Ryker's road to recovery will be a long one.

Ryker's treatments could stretch into the next several years. The road map, or treatment plan that doctors have given Ryker includes 4-5 years of high powered chemotherapy. Had the problem been the lymphoma by itself, the treatment may have been as short as 2 years.

Many of Ryker's treatments will be outpatient which will allow his parents, Krysten and Jake to stay by his side. However, for Krysten, who is several months pregnant, the road will be an especially hard one.

The two were about as typical as it gets until that June day when their lives were turned upside down by Ryker's diagnosis. Jake works with a software company and Krysten was going to college to become a hair stylist when the tragedy hit. When the dreaded news came to the family, Krysten was only seven weeks away from finishing her education to help care for young Ryker. Jake and Krysten will be expecting another bundle of joy in just a few weeks.

To add to the highs and lows of this trial for that this young family is going through, Jake was on his way to work when he was blindsided by a driver who was carrying no insurance. Their car was totaled and being an older car, it was not worth that much money, leaving very little to purchase another vehicle on top of everything they are going through.

Through it all, Ryker and his family keep their faith in the midst of everything they are going through. The story may not be uncommon, but it is one that folks go through every single day living in America. Hardworking, vibrant and young just trying to make it, the best way that they can. Through it all, Ryker's Road will be a hard road to walk, but with their faith, their family and their friends, Ryker's road to recovery will be bearable and promising.

While the doctors and staff at Texas Childrens Hospital in Houston work to make sure young Ryker has the same vibrant life as any other child his age, his family will continue in love and support for him and friends and the community will band together through a GoFundMe account, cards, letter and prayers for Ryker and his family as they continue down that long highway ahead, Ryker's road.

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