BARSTOW • As a civilian contractor, Barstow resident Jeff Ryan has worked as a welder, mechanic and most recently as a vehicle maintenance supervisor at Northrop Grumman at Fort Irwin for the past 15 years.
Since being diagnosed with a rare form of bone cancer just three months ago, Ryan has already undergone two major surgeries to install titanium rods to support the full length of one of his arm bones and one thigh bone.
Described as an active and hard-working father by sister-in-law Delana Wells, Ryan now walks with a cane and is unfamiliar with his current, less mobile state, along with time away from working and doing activities with his family, he says.
“The cancer is aggressive,” Ryan said. “It’s like having a bad toothache in your bones.”
Ryan’s latest surgery, three and a half weeks ago, was to remove a tumor in his humerus bone that grew from the size of a pea to more than two inches of the bone and two other small tumors in 30 days’ time.
His symptoms began in May, he said, when he had persistent pain in his leg and hip. Upon several doctors visits, an X-ray of his hip revealed a giant tumor in his right femur that had eroded a large portion of the bone.
“The doctor said it looked like Swiss cheese,” Wells said.
After doing a biopsy of the tumor, it was discovered that Ryan has multiple myeloma, a cancer that causes the plasma cells in bone marrow to grow out of control and form tumors in areas of solid bone, eroding the bone, according to the U.S National Library of Medicine online.
“Less than one percent of those diagnosed with bone cancer are diagnosed with this type,” Ryan said.
He is currently completing his first round of chemotherapy through Loma Linda University Medical Center. It is anticipated that he will undergo three to six rounds before a stem cell transplant is an option, he said. Also, recent scans have unfortunately revealed a new tumor in his skull, other humerus and collar bone.
Now on medical leave from work, Ryan is the primary income holder in his family with four children. Ryan said the family has health insurance and is receiving disability money, but out-of-pocket costs will be in the thousands as medical bills continue to rack up.
For this reason, Wells started an online fundraiser for the family at giveforward.com with hopes to raise $25,000. The page has already garnered $4,070 in donations including $1,500 from two anonymous donors.
To donate to the Ryan family go to: giveforward.com/jeffreyryan.