Dylan was born to Matthew and Kimberly Riddle on Oct. 13, 2007. In March 2008, he began tilting his head to the left and slowly arching his back, actions followed by bouts of vomiting. Initially, Dylan’s doctor attributed the symptoms to an ear infection.
Within three weeks, it was clear that there was another problem as Dylan’s symptoms had worsened. The doctor had noted Dylan’s head measured large for his age.
On May 30, 2008, Dylan’s parents took him to Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital where he was diagnosed with a brain tumor.
“I thank God we brought him in or he would have died in his sleep that very night,” Kimberly said in information provided to The Cadiz Record.
A surgeon placed a shunt to drain fluid off of Dylan’s brain. The tumor was surgically removed June 4, 2008. Preliminary analysis indicated the tumor was benign, but the Riddles were informed just over a week later that further testing revealed it was malignant.
Dylan was diagnosed with anaplastic ependymoma, a rapid-growing drop-cell tumor. Because Dylan was too young for radiation, he was scheduled for chemotherapy every two weeks for the next 18 months.
“He has had his ups and downs,” Kimberly said. “He has been in and out of surgery since chemo has begun, has had numerous blood transfusions and bloodborne bacterial/yeast infections.”
Dylan was beginning his sixth cycle of treatment when doctors revealed the tumor was returning. It appeared radiation would be the only option, but Kimberly said Matthew researched radiation and discovered Proton Therapy, a treatment intended for childhood ependymoma, especially for those under the age of 3.
Conventional radiation sends a strong beam from entrance to exit, while proton radiation sends a light beam that pulsates, explodes when it hits the tumor and stops upon exit, sparing healthy tissue.
“The only problem was that it was not local,” Kimberly said. “The closest was Indiana, which our oncologist didn’t recommend. He stated it was because there was not a children’s hospital close that could handle Dylan’s needs.”
That set the Riddles on a path to Houston, where they stayed at the Ronald McDonald House after arriving on July 6.
Dylan’s new treatment consisted of daily radiation Monday through Friday for six weeks.
After a brief return trip home, Dylan returned to Texas with his mother and older brother Ethan on July 12, and Dylan’s treatment began two days later.
“We found that Dylan tolerated radiation a lot better than chemo,” Kimberly said.
Dylan completed treatment and returned home Aug. 21. He’ll return to Houston in six months for a follow-up. In the meantime, he’ll be monitored by doctors at Vanderbilt and have routine MRIs.
“Overall, Dylan is a trooper and is doing well considering what he has gone through,” Kimberly said. “He no longer has to have chemo or radiation. He can grow to be a normal child unless his MRI shows otherwise.
“We pray and thank everyone for their concern and compassion given to Dylan and his family during this time,” Kimberly continued. “We take each day as it comes and have learned not to make plans. We are thankful we still have Dylan in our lives and understand the value of not taking things for granted.”
Trigg County Baptist Church will host a benefit for Dylan beginning at 9 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 26. For more information, call Solutions at 522-1230. Donations may be made at Bank of Cadiz to the Dylan’s Hope account.