SYLVANIA - Ryan Taylor will delay his high school career a year, while focusing on a larger task at hand - wining his battle against leukemia.
While other 14-year-olds are building relationships with new friends and teachers in their first-year at Screven County High, Ryan spent the last month building relationships with doctors and nurses, undergoing radiation and chemotherapy treatments, and learning to walk again.
After an early August diagnosis of acute myloid leukemia, a disease of the blood and bone marrow, solid tumors formed by the leukemia cells developed in Ryan's back. The tumors caused temporary paralysis in his legs, his mother Trish McBride said. After receiving localized radiation treatment to dissolve the tumors, she said Ryan began learning to walk again.
"Ryan has begun to walk again," McBride said, "and is working hard to regain full use of his legs."
She said that the tumor in his lower vertebrae has been completely dissolved, while the upper mass has dissolved 95 percent.
Three weeks ago, McBride was hopeful that a school program at the Medical College of Georgia hospital would help Ryan stay on track for his freshman year, despite not physically attending classes.
Screven County High Principal Brett Warren said his teachers work hard in situations like Taylor's to help students succeed with a distance learning program. Taylor's teachers provided the hospital with his assignments, and MCG school services coordinator Pam Childs worked with Ryan to complete them, McBride said.
The program, along with homebound schooling when students like Ryan return home, are both designed to keep students from getting too far behind in their school work, Warren said.
McBride said she was very pleased with the school's efforts to help Ryan, but the uncertainty in the length of his hospital stay led him, the doctors, and his family to decide to delay his start in high school until next year.
Childs will continue working with Ryan throughout his stay to keep his mind sharp, McBride said, but the pace of keeping up with assignments was too intense along with his treatments.
In the face of numerous setbacks, Ryan has maintained a good attitude, his mother said.
His overcoming a virus last week is just one more challenge Ryan has faced during his sickness. With a low platelet count, McBride said even the most minor cut could be very dangerous because his blood lacks enough clotting factor. Ryan has adjusted to his stay at the hospital, she said, and is now dealing with the loss of all his hair from the chemotherapy.
McBride is hoping that results from a bone marrow test scheduled for Sept. 8 will show that his immune system is stable enough for Ryan to come home for a few days before returning to Augusta for another round of treatments.
For anyone interested in helping, the Ryan Taylor Fund was opened by Statesboro and Sylvania banks to help Ryan's family with mounting hospital bills. Donations can be made at the Heritage Bank of Statesboro, with locations behind Zaxby's and inside Walmart, or at the Queensborough Bank of Sylvania.