The Road to The Stern Method
In May of 2013, Ryder was born.
He couldn’t have been more perfect in our eyes.
At that point, we had no idea of the mayhem taking place inside of his growing body.
In May of 2014, while Teddy was nursing him, she noticed a lump in Ryder’s back right next to his spine.
It was not large, but it was there. We immediately made an appointment to see his pediatrician.
We started realizing there were more symptoms to be concerned about than just the lump which was very concerning on it’s own. However, these concerns had been brushed off multiple times when brought up with his pediatrician and then later a physician’s assistant at the hospital when we went to get a second opinion.
- Ryder was turning one that month and was nowhere near even being able to crawl much less even turn over.
- He had stopped growing at around six months of age. After being born above the 90th percentile in both height and weight, he had dropped down to the 25th.
- Ryder could not handle any solid food and would gag whenever we tried to feed him anything.
We were told to just keep an eye on the lump and begin physical therapy for walking and speech therapy for eating.
We knew something did not feel right and kept pressing for answers…
After being told to just “wait and see” for six weeks (which we didn’t), we were finally granted an ultrasound which immediately led to an MRI on May 16th, 2014 (eleven days before Ryder’s first birthday).
They revealed the lump was just “the tip of the iceberg”.
When the doctor and the nurse finally came into our tiny waiting room after the MRI, they both had tears in their eyes as they shared the devastating news.
Ryder had a tumor larger than his kidney growing inside and out of his spinal canal and two secondary tumors, all of which had metastasized into his bones.
It was also discovered that Ryder had been born with a double aortic arch. Although not life threatening, it would require heart surgery to correct and explained why he was having such a hard time swallowing solid foods.
The heart surgery on it’s own would have been scary enough but we barely even acknowledged it. All we could hear were the words “Your son has cancer and it’s Stage IV”.
All of a sudden, the same doctors who initially told us that everything was fine now couldn’t get him admitted into the hospital and on treatment fast enough.
We both knew that we needed to get a second opinion before starting treatment.
It was made clear to us very quickly however, that would not be an option…And so we pivoted to an integrative approach, doing everything we could to both mitigate the damage done by chemotherapy and help Ryder to heal as quickly as possible.
We found a naturopath in the area that specialized in cancer to consult with, spoke over the phone with various cancer coaches and other doctors all over the country, and spent hours buried in books or on the internet doing research of our own.
The cabinet in our hospital room soon had a large arsenal of supplements which we gave Ryder ourselves through the NG feeding tube we requested and the nurses were blown away when we showed up with a juicer and let them know we would not be needing any of the provided food for Ryder or ourselves.
At home, it started looking more and more like a full blown alternative cancer clinic with all the devices we were obtaining. We had a bit of savings built up at that point and did not hesitate to spend it all, and then some, on what we thought was best for Ryder.
Through all of this Ryder’s tumor shrunk faster than anyone expected.
We were able to avoid virtually all other conventional medicines and procedures that usually come with chemotherapy, and his overall appearance and energy levels were much more vibrant than the other kids in the oncology ward.
The next MRI revealed even more progress and on September 23, 2014 (Teddy’s 29th birthday), after four rounds of chemotherapy and four months since we started this journey, we made the decision to stop chemotherapy halfway through the conventional protocol.
Ryder continues to be under the care of an oncologist and closely monitored with MRI’s and labs.
Stopping conventional treatment put all responsibility of Ryder’s health on our shoulder’s and this was not taken lightly.
In the ensuing months and years we’ve continued to refine Ryder’s protocol and adapt to the challenges of successfully applying all of these integrative healing modalities to a growing toddler.
In July of 2015 after researching the best pediatric heart surgeons in the country, we flew to CHOP to have Ryder’s double aorta corrected.
Around that time, we removed the feeding tube and through trial and error made the protocol work even given the fact that Ryder now tastes all food and supplements he receives.
The secondary tumors are gone, along with the metastasis to Ryder’s hip bones. The primary tumor in his spinal cord is a small fraction of what it was at diagnosis and our oncologist is confident at this point, it is scar tissue as it has remained stable for a year.
With the exception of a small hiccup after we transitioned off of the feeding tube it has been going steadily in the right direction.
We continue to employ a mix of super nutrition, targeted supplementation, energy medicine and healthy lifestyle practices to make sure Ryder not only survives, but thrives in his health for the rest of his life… Along with his baby sister, Channing.
Along the way, we started this website to share what we’ve learned with anyone going through cancer, especially cancer parents, and make the information a little easier to find for them than it was for us.
Ryan, Teddy, Ryder, and Channing