Husband & Caregiver
Just one year into marriage, Ryan and his wife Michelle received terrible news. At 27 years old, she had brain cancer. They were understandably devastated. Ryan says, “The first thing she said to me was, ‘This isn’t how our second year of marriage is supposed to be.’”
Michelle had her initial surgery at another hospital, but after doing their own research and consultation, the couple agreed that Moffitt Cancer Center was where she needed to be treated.
Open, big hearted and bearing a smile under even the worst circumstances, Michelle surprised her Moffitt team with her positivity through multiple surgeries, chemo and radiation. As Ryan explains, “A lot of those experiences started with Michelle’s courage to say, ‘No matter what I’m going through, I’m going to have a smile and make the best out of this.’”
And it’s precisely what she did, quickly deciding she would write a book of her experiences to inspire other cancer fighters. Ryan’s love and admiration for Michelle only grew over the next 23 months as he watched her courageously fight her brain cancer, while helping others to deal with their own cancer challenges.
Michelle wasn’t able to finish her book, but her passion to do good for others reverberated well beyond her passing. Guided by her inspiring life lessons, Michelle created the Fighter Foundation, working in tandem with the annual Miles for Moffitt race to raise awareness of brain cancer and support funding. Ryan started “Team Fighter” and managed to raise $62,500 the first year.
He draws strength from her incredible determination. Today Ryan continues her legacy of doing good through the Fighter Foundation, and by sharing his own experiences through social media to “support the good” in any way possible. As Ryan says, “There’s so many awesome organizations in the area, you don’t have to look hard to find opportunities to give back.”