Ryan Kennedy was diagnosed with ependymoma, a rare form of brain cancer, in 2007, when he was 4. Now Ryan, at 9, is living out the most adult decision a person can make — he quit all his cancer treatments and chose to die at home.
Ryan’s disease attacks the central nervous system, and caused him to walk into walls and vomit frequently. Since his diagnosis, his treatments have included four rounds of chemotherapy, two bouts of radiation, and seven surgeries. Ryan’s most recent operation, last August, left the right side of Ryan’s face paralyzed, and that’s when he decided to wave the white flag.
When doctors proposed another surgery in February, Ryan refused, telling his parents with certainty, “I’m done with this.” He just wanted to “live the rest of his life.”
Ryan’s final wish was to go swimming, so the whole family took a vacation. Now Ryan is spending his last days at home in hospice care. He has almost died — twice — and he’s shared tearful goodbyes with his brother and sister.
Ryan’s 10th birthday is May 24, but doctors don’t expect him to live that long.