Written by wife, Ginny Goddard
Ryan grew up in Des Moines, Iowa surrounded by a loving family. He went to East High School and graduated in 1998.
After graduation, he left Des Moines and attended Northwest Missouri State University. He graduated in 2003 with a degree in Geography.
Ryan and I met in college and were inseparable. We moved to Kansas City in 2003 and lived downtown, working and enjoying our mid-20s. We finally got married in August 2008.
Ryan was a photogrammetric compilation specialist. He made maps from aerial photographs. Every time he metsomeone and told them he made maps, they always said, “I’ve never met anyone who makes maps.” That made me proud. He also loved to fix things around the house or find projects to work on. He bought a moped and fixed it up; he built me a cedar swing out in the back yard in May when he was sick and receiving treatments. He loved the Iowa Hawkeyes, his truck, country music, Ben Harper, barbecue and his dog, Logan.
In January 2009 we moved into a new house ready to start our lives, but in March he started to tell me he didn’t feel well. For the most part Ryan just had severe lower back pain. After countless appointments and wrong diagnoses, he was diagnosed with colon cancer five months later in August of 2009. I remember leaving the doctor’s office and the only thing he could tell me was how he didn’t want to call his mom because he didn’t want her to worry. We were both a wreck. Surgery soon followed, then chemo. He fought so hard.
During all his treatments he still went to work. Then in January 2010 he started to get severe headaches. We made a trip to the hospital because I could tell something wasn’t right. After he woke up from the seizures, I had to tell him the cancer had spread to his brain. Radiation followed and the treatments started to take a toll on his body. Somehow, he still went to work and carried on like things were okay.
In July I came home early from work and Ryan was having a hard time catching his breath. I took him to the hospital and soon after they had to intubate him. I didn’t know that would be the last time I would ever tell him I loved him. He was on life support for 10 days. I didn’t want to be the one to end his fight after he had fought so hard. I had to know before I took him off life support that he was ready to go and it was his time. God eventually gave us the sign we needed and on August 2, I held his hand with his mom as they turned the machines off and we told him he could go.
As horrible as that time was, the most amazing thing Ryan and I discovered was the love and generosity that other people showed. It humbled us. To have people, even strangers, go out of their way to show their love and support means the world to people fighting cancer and those helping them.
Ryan was part of my soul. He taught me how to love and everything that love is and can be. I’ve learned to grasp that Ryan’s life was short and I’m grateful that God put me in his life to help him during that horrible time and I’m grateful God let us experience that kind of love here on Earth.
I know he touched so many lives: doctors, patients, friends, family, strangers. He wanted to fight and beat this disease to make a difference in others’ lives.
When me and his family heard about the Iowa Get Your Rear in Gear, his family created the first “Home Team” in honor of Ryan—when he got diagnosed we called our fight “Home Team” because we knew we would be there for one another no matter what. Then in 2011, I reached out to the organization and helped plan the first Get Your Rear in Gear in Kansas City. I felt alone being so young dealing with this, but after that event I didn’t feel so alone.
I want you to know that I’ve never seen someone fight for their life the way he did. But the most touching part of all of it was that he wasn’t fighting for himself…he was fighting for the people he loved….me, his family, his mom and dad and sisters and niece and nephew, his friends and especially for all the other people he had met who were battling cancer. Ryan would get knocked down and get bad news, time after time, but he always would get right back up and say that he wasn’t giving up. I was so proud to be his wife.