Ryan Anthony began playing the trumpet at age 7. Ryan has had a successful career as a trumpet soloist and clinician – soloing with major orchestras around the world; performing for several years with the Canadian Brass and now acting as Principal Trumpet of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra.
Almost three years ago, Ryan had just completed a guest appearance with his former group, the Canadian Brass, and he wasn’t feeling well. After the concert, Ryan told his wife, Niki, that he felt like his entire body was “jangling” as he ran off-stage.
Recent chronic aches & pains had sent the 43-yr old to multiple doctors searching for the cause. Blood tests revealed abnormalities but multiple doctors reassured him that “it can’t be cancer” because Ryan was too young to be a candidate for the types of cancers that caused his symptoms. Fortunately, one doctor decided to test for cancer “just in case”. The Monday after the Canadian Brass concert, Ryan & Niki got the call that no one anticipates or is prepared for – especially with two young children in elementary school – Ryan had been diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma, a terminal cancer of the bone marrow that most often appears in patients 70 and older.
Ryan immediately began therapy at Baylor’s Sammons Cancer Center while he and Niki researched the places for his long-term treatment. After researching hospitals all over the country, they decided to stay at Baylor in Dallas and Ryan began preparing for a stem cell transplant to be performed in the Spring of 2013.
Just ten years ago, Multiple Myeloma was a death sentence with a life span of 2-3 years. While the cancer is still considered incurable and terminal, recent and rapid advances in research have greatly extended the life span of newly diagnosed patients and hope for a cure is a real possibility.
When he was diagnosed, Ryan’s goal was to survive long enough to see his children, then just 6 and 11-years-old, graduate from high school. But, because he has responded so well to his treatment and is in complete remission, Ryan & Niki both dare to hope for more.
During his stem cell transplant, Ryan was overwhelmed with phone calls from trumpet players all over the world. Everyone asked what they could do to help and Ryan jokingly started saying “we’ll all play a concert when I am healthy again and we’ll call it ‘Cancer Blows’ ”. As the weeks went by, the joke solidified into a real event with an impressive guest list. Soon, Ryan & Niki realized the event could be more than just something for fun, but could be used to raise awareness and money to further the research that has helped give their family a hope for a future.
The concert was held in March of 2015 and the proceeds were donated to improve cancer treatment outcomes and ultimately find a cure.
It’s exciting and scary at the same time…so is music…so is cancer…so is life
Since July, Ryan has increased his maintenance to full treatments due to inconsistent numbers. He’s still in remission, but is receiving virtually the same dose and combination of meds after being first diagnosed 3 years ago. In addition to any side affects from the treatments and cancer, fatigue and occasional infections requiring additional antibiotics due to low immune system are common. He says that all of this is livable and doesn’t require any major change in life’s desires, dreams, or daily life. But, it does affect his ability to play and prepare on the trumpet. Ryan says that it can be frustrating, but with his priorities being a bit different and with a foundation to run, it sorts itself out and falls into place.
CancerBlows has several events in the works with another major concert again in Dallas in 2017, and another in Los Angeles. According to Ryan, “We never expected or planned on having The Ryan Anthony Foundation a full-time year round charity, but the community and others are asking for it – very touching and, as you can imagine, very important now. It’s exciting and scary at the same time…so is music…so is cancer….so is life.”
For more information on The Ryan Anthony Foundation, visit: