A little more than a year after Ryan Teixeira had surgery to remove a 10-pound malignant tumor from his leg and eight months after his last round of chemotherapy, the Arroyo Grande High School graduate and former baseball star is again fighting for his life after an early diagnosis this week of a rare form of leukemia.
“They are 99-percent sure that it is caused by one of the chemotherapy drugs that he was administered his first battle with the tumor,” Steve Teixeira said over the phone Thursday from a room at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles. “It’s a very rare side effect, and Ryan happened to get it.”
Ryan Teixera, the 2015 Tribune baseball player of the year who had been attending Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction, first noticed something was wrong after returning from a trip to Williamsport, Pennsylvania, two weeks ago. Members of the Colorado Mesa baseball team were there to accompany the Grand Junction Challenger team, which is made up of individuals with physical and developmental challenges as part of Little League Baseball.
Steve Teixeira said that a few of the players caught colds on the trip, but Ryan’s didn’t go away.
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“He got very sick as far as a sinus infection, and he just wasn’t getting any better,” Steve Teixeira said. “He went to the school doctor, and they did some lab work. And as soon as they did some lab work, they told him you need to go to the emergency room.”
Ryan Teixeria then boarded a plane to UCLA on Tuesday and received a preliminary diagnosis of Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML), a fast-growing form of cancer of the blood and bone marrow. It follows his 2015 diagnosis of Stage 1 Ewing sarcoma and multiple rounds of chemotherapy during his senior year.
“As rare as his tumor was, this is equally as rare,” Steve Teixeira said. “This usually shows up, if it happens, two to three years later, not eight months. Ryan’s last chemotherapy was in December of last year. That’s what shocked everybody.”
Ryan Teixeira took a medical redshirt his freshman year of college and has yet to play with the Colorado Mesa baseball team, which offered him a scholarship before his diagnosis. They were the first to offer words of encouragement on social media.
“We’re with you Ryan! Stay Tough,” Colorado Mesa head coach Chris Hanks tweeted Wednesday. A photo of the entire team standing behind hundreds of baseballs arranged to read “17 STRONG” — Ryan Teixeira’s uniform number — accompanied the tweet.
“It sucks,” Garrett Ball, teammate and close friend at Arroyo Grande and Colorado Mesa, said via text message Thursday. “It was kind of out of nowhere. He was here at school then just started feeling sick.”
Steve Teixeira said that he’s not sure of a treatment schedule, and the diagnosis is not official, but that Ryan could start chemotherapy as early as Friday.
“It is very difficult,” Steve Teixeira said. “It’s like a dream you just want to wake up from and think that it was a big nightmare, you know? To watch your child, or anybody’s child, go through this is horrific to say the least.”
Ryan’s uncle and aunt, Heather and John Teixeira, are in the process of setting up bone marrow drives locally and in Colorado. The details will be known in the coming days.