Life after Treatment: My Legacy

A longterm cancer survivor explains how cancer shaped his life.

By Ryan Maranto

Ryan Maranto with Ching-Hon Pui, MD

Gratitude

Ryan Maranto visits with St. Jude oncologist Ching-Hon Pui, MD, the doctor who saved Ryan’s life.

Everybody has a story that makes them who they are—a legacy they’ll leave behind. Mine started the day I found out I had leukemia.

At age 8, it was hard to comprehend what the world of cancer really meant. I just knew I was sick, and I was going to a place that would help make me better: St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

I remember the chemotherapy, the bone marrow and spinal tap procedures, and the nervous feeling of waiting for my name to be called. St. Jude is where I took my first communion and where I saw snow for the first time. My childhood revolved around the hospital.

Ching-Hon Pui, MD, is a legend in the field of leukemia treatment. He was my doctor: the man who made it happen for me. I have nothing but love and admiration for Dr. Pui. How can you express thanks to someone who not only gave you a second chance at life, but who has also done the same thing for so many other kids?

Ryan Maranto with a musician during treatment

Looking back

Ryan strums a tune with a visiting musician in 1994.

When I was a boy, I had two friends who watched me progress through treatment. Those friends eventually married and had a daughter who is now undergoing treatment for the same cancer I had. I was able to explain to that couple what their daughter was about to experience.

And her oncologist? It’s Dr. Pui.

I’m joyful and happy and appreciative—never regretting for one moment that I had cancer. It’s been an unbelievable journey and a privilege to look back and know I had a second chance at life.

Ryan Maranto

My greatest joy is when I can provide some level of hope for parents who are just getting started on this journey. Today, I lead an active and fulfilling life: attending football games in the fall, wakesurfing and wakeboarding in the summer. I never take life for granted. I’m joyful and happy and appreciative—never regretting for one moment that I had cancer. It’s been an unbelievable journey and a privilege to look back and know I had a second chance at life.

I’m living proof of what St. Jude can do, and I want to continue to carry that legacy, spreading a beacon of hope to other patients.

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