Even at only 9 ½ years old, Dylan has already encountered challenges few kids his age face. Most of those difficulties came after his brother Ryan’s acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) diagnosis in October 2017. Ever since that day, Dylan has been hyper-focused on helping Ryan get better. Still, the issues Dylan faces are ones unique to siblings of kids with cancer.
Their mom, Jennifer, is very cautious about Ryan encountering germs. His weakened immune system makes it hard to fight off even normal issues like a cold. That also impacts Dylan, who could bring those germs home simply from going to a friend’s house or to the grocery store. It puts Dylan in a difficult position when trying to be a typical kid.
“There are times where we have to quarantine them from one another, which is awful because they’re best buddies and want to be together,” said Jennifer. “We tried so hard to keep Ryan as healthy as possible during the scary flu season, when even healthy kids were dying from the flu.”
Ryan’s illness keeps him sheltered, but Jennifer was also worried about Dylan’s well-being. He can’t always be taken out of school to support Ryan during check-ups. Sometimes only one parent can go to Dylan’s basketball games because the other has to stay home with Ryan. Despite that balancing act, both Jennifer and her husband Jeremy want Dylan to experience as normal a childhood as possible.
“I think for both of them, they’ve had to grow up way faster than they should have because of this,” said Jennifer.
That fear is what first drove Jennifer to Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation (ALSF) in the first place. She wanted to make sure Dylan felt appreciated even while they were spending so much time dealing with Ryan’s diagnosis.
“I was worried about Dylan more than anything and how he was going to cope with this,” said Jennifer. “I saw that ALSF has the SuperSib program and I really wanted to find something that would help him.”
As soon as Jennifer left the hospital that day, she looked up ALSF and enrolled Dylan in the SuperSib program. Not only does it make Dylan feel special and supported, it also gives Jennifer peace of mind. It’s also helped Dylan continue to be the amazing, positive big brother he’s always been without any hint of jealousy.
Whenever Dylan is free, he always goes to the hospital with Ryan, even for routine lab work. He sits and prays by Ryan’s side to make his brother as comfortable as possible. With Ryan’s treatment scheduled until December 2020, Dylan will continue to be a stellar SuperSib who sticks by his brother no matter what.