In 2018, Ryan’s wife Stephanie pointed out a dark mole on the back of his ear and urged him to get it checked out. He quickly obliged and made an appointment with his family doctor, however, on two separate occasions was told “you have nothing to worry about.” It was only after another year of tenderness and a noticeable size increase, that he demanded a referral to a dermatologist.
The dermatologist quickly removed it, sent it in for a biopsy and referred him to The Princess Margaret. “When I heard The Princess Margaret, I knew it was serious. They are the best, and you only need the best if it’s serious” he said. And serious it was, Ryan had stage 2B melanoma.
He had surgery to remove the affected area of his right ear before his lymph nodes were sent for more tests. This came with mixed emotions, a worry that something so small could have turned into something so big, but also a comfort that he was in the best hands possible. Ryan said that between bloodwork, CT scans, and MRIs, that every person he met with treated him with sincerity and care.
After surgery, they adopted a ‘watch and wait’ approach—until his lymph nodes presented a unique set of biomarkers which pointed to a more aggressive melanoma and a possible return. This made Ryan an excellent candidate for a new clinical trial which was being run to test the positive effects of an immunotherapy treatment for more advanced stages of the disease as a preventative measure for those in stage 2. He was told the side effects could be extreme but knew that the benefits outweighed the risks and decided to take part.
On March 11, 2021 running in parallel with a worldwide pandemic, Ryan finished the last of his 17 treatments. He is currently all clear and hopes to stay that way and is grateful that he could contribute to the future of cancer research by being a part of this cutting-edge clinical trial at The Princess Margaret.