Monday, April 4, 2016

MISD Teacher Shares His Battle with Leukemia

Ray Riley said he chooses to see the positive in life.
Cancer is not an easy topic to discuss for some, but for one T.A. Howard Middle School teacher, he hopes his story can encourage others.

“I can’t help someone else holding on to my testimony,” said Ray Riley.

The eighth grade English teacher vividly remembers the details surrounding the time he first discovered he had cancer. It was the first week of October 2015. He was at his home and felt a sharp throbbing pain in his arm. No medication eased the discomfort, but it eventually went away.

On October 16, Riley felt the same excruciating pain. This time, it was in his right arm. He went to work anyways, but the school nurse told him that he had high blood pressure and needed to seek medical attention immediately.

After some tests, a doctor told him that his white blood cell count was high. He was then diagnosed with leukemia, although he showed no obvious symptoms. Riley was in disbelief. This was not the news he was wanting to hear as a soon-to-be father.

“I cried for a little bit, but you have to move on,” Riley recalled. “Life is not the way you always plan it. When things don’t go your way, you have to adjust.”

Riley has to take a chemotherapy pill for the rest of his life, but said he is blessed to have caught the leukemia in its early treatable stages. Now, Mansfield ISD’s Colors for Caring Days have a whole new meaning for him.

“I see the students and staff here at Howard wear orange to support me with my leukemia, and it means a lot,” he said. “You never know what anyone else is going through, and it really hits home when it happens to you.”

Through it all, Riley has kept his fighting spirit and has a message for others who might be in the same situation.

“Stay positive and don’t give up,” Riley continued. “Don’t have a pity party because you’re allowing the disease to win.”