Ryan Miller is a playful, positive, and outgoing 10-year-old boy. He is also a cancer survivor. After being diagnosed in 2016 with Burkitt’s Lymphoma, getting to meet his favorite player Russell Wilson, and beating cancer, a lot has changed. But what happens after cancer?
When Coastal Kids’ Counselor, Ruth Shapiro, LCSW - Director of Palliative Care and Bereavement, met Ryan for the first time he was just finishing up chemotherapy. His mom sought out Ruth and Coastal Kids to help Ryan adjust -- to school, to home, and to being a 5-year-old kid again. During treatment for cancer, Ryan had missed school and was struggling with asking for help. He was also having difficulty sharing attention with his older brother, Scott. At mom’s request, Ruth also stepped in to help Scott cope with the ups and downs of being a sibling of a child with serious-illness.
During one-on-one counseling sessions, which often took place over backyard basketball games, Ruth gave Ryan the necessary tools to communicate at home and school. With the help of some extra tutoring, Ryan was soon back on track in his schoolwork and despite the occasional brotherly battle, he was getting along better with Scott too. In turn, Scott was learning to step out of the shadow of his demanding little brother. In the two years that Ruth saw Ryan and Scott she saw amazing progress in both. “It was a really wonderful time for me to begin counseling because it felt like Ryan’s life was beginning again.”
Today, Ryan is excelling. He has been playing sports and is reading higher than grade level. Both brothers are adjusting to extra time at home due to the pandemic, as well as adjusting to distance learning. According to mom, “Coastal Kids was an amazing resource for my family. Ruth was amazing with my boys. She listened to their concerns or frustrations along with giving them ways to deal with these issues. They are both doing great today.”