#HelloStranger Podcast

Everyone is a stranger until you get to know them.


Everyone is a stranger until you get to know them.

Welcome to #HelloStranger, a podcast started by two adventurous college students who enjoy talking to strangers. We’re Sadies and Carlos, and in this episode of Hello Stranger, we meet #CancerSurvivor, Ryan.

Ryan at her first round of Chemotherapy, in 2010

I was diagnosed with stage three germ cell tumor, which was classified as a type of ovarian cancer.

I was 18 years old when I was diagnosed, and I had just made it half way through my first year of college.

Up until the day of my diagnosis I was dealing with prior symptoms of blooding, abdominal pain, fatigue, I felt tired all the time, so I made multiple trips to the doctors and even the emergency room and the doctors still couldn’t pin point what was going on. It wasn’t till the day of my diagnosis that the pain became so unbearable to the point where I couldn’t take it anymore, and I didn’t want to leave without an answer.

Ryan after surgery to remove a blood clot, 2011

After my diagnosis, we waited a couple of days until they found the proper oncologist and surgeon to take over my surgery. After I had my surgery I had cycles of chemo that lasted 16 hours a day, five days in a row, for every three weeks. My cycles of chemo were briefly interrupted by a blood clot that they found in my leg that resulted from the tumor blocking the left side of my body. After that was taken care of by shots of blood thinners every night, my cycles of chemo continued until I reached my first remission in 2011.

To keep it short because my story is very long and has many complicated twists and turns I just wanted to say from 2011 until now I have unfortunately experience two relapses, two more surgeries, and I’ve even undergone a tandem stem cell transplant using my own stem cells which trust me was a whole other journey on its own. But overall, I was able to retrieve remission in 2013, at 21 years old, from a treatment that was given to me as a last option other than radiation because I had exhausted all my other chemo options and from what I only knew was a trial.

Ryan in her “City of Hope” volunteer uniform, in 2014

I’ve always been a positive person, aside from spending a crying or wanting to really give up or not wanting to go to treatment at all I managed to get it together. I spend a good majority of my time in good spirits, laughing about things that were probably too serious for other people or comforting others and cheering them up because I always wanted to be surrounded by a positive environment.

Through my experience with cancer I found strength in the fact that there were treatment options available for me, unfortunately not everyone is put in that same position and don’t have as many options available as far as treatment. So I found strength in knowing that I had a chance to fight. I found strength also in the friends that I met along the way by going through treatments together or by sharing stories with. The fact that I was able to make it so far and have been through so much is what really keeps me going today.

Ryan celebrating being cancer free for two years, in 2015

My family and friends, and all the memories that we have to make and to look forward [to], are what also keep me going. I made a promise to myself that no matter what I do with my life, I will be my best and do my best, so I’m going to spend every day holding myself to this promise and spreading hope to others along the way.

Ryan, still cancer free, with Cal State Long Beach acceptance letter, in April 2016