A Howell resident who served his country in Iraq is now in the fight of his life as he battles a dangerous form of brain cancer. A fundraising effort has been undertaken to help 26-year-old Ryan Connell receive the help he needs to get the treatment that could help save his life.
It was back in 2008 that Connell served overseas as part of a four year tenure with the New Jersey National Guard. According to information on his page on youcaring.com it was upon his return that he began suffering from headaches but tried to work through them. At that time he was working as a chef at a local country club and was taking classes at Ocean County College where he received his Associates Degree.
From the community college he continued his education at Rowan University with the goal of becoming a history teacher. In 2012 he suffered a grand mal seizure at which time a mass was discovered. Doctors removed what they believed was a benign tumor but was later discovered to be a Stage 4 glioblastoma encompassed by a stage 2 astrocytoma according to the site.
Following the diagnosis Connell underwent radiation and chemotherapy and was believed to be in remission until October of 2013 when an MRI revealed “a small area of suspicion.” Located in an area where doctors would not be able to reach it with surgery Connell underwent a new form of chemotherapy that proved successful in stopping the growth in that area.
The MRI in December of 2013 also showed a new mass had “grown to an inch in diameter and is affecting his speech and concentration.” It was also during this time that Connell was dropped from his father’s health insurance as he turned 27 and his “pending medical discharge from the military,” has also delayed receiving military health benefits.”
Connell’s doctors told him that they believed the current growth is in an inoperable location and that surgery could do more harm than good. There is a chance that a clinical trial at Duke University that his family is hoping to enroll him in. Funds raised through the website will pay for Connell’s travel and medical expenses.