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A Local Student's Impact for Breast Cancer

02/09/2013 01:17PM ● Published by Ashlee Cleveland

While most high school aged boys are consumed with sports, video games and hanging out with
friends, one Massey Hill student has a different perspective on life as he was moved to action following the loss of his mother to breast cancer.

Stephanie Ann Will, a Fort Bragg spouse, lost her battle with cancer on March 26, 2012, leaving behind a husband on active duty and three children, Ryan, 16, Kyle, 13, and Abbygail, 9. Her legacy lives on through the efforts of her family, notably her oldest son’s dedication.

Ryan Will, a high school junior, has been recognized for his efforts to bring awareness about breast cancer to our community through organizing and participating in local walks. At last year’s Avon Walk for Breast Cancer in Charlotte, Ryan was one of the keynote speakers. “It was an amazing experience. It was intimidating at first, due to the massive crowd, but I just talked about my mom and why I was there,” said Ryan. “I’m very proud of myself that I was able to do it. I’ve used that experience as a way to break down barriers in my own life.”

After being diagnosed with breast cancer on November 21, 2003, Stephanie battled the disease for more than eight years. Because of her strong belief in finding a cure for cancer, only weeks after her mastectomy surgery, she participated in Boston’s Avon Walk for Breast Cancer in May 2004
and also the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer in Charlotte in 2008. Her husband, Dan, along with Ryan, have signed up for the 39.3 mile Avon Walk for Breast Cancer in Charlotte on October 26-27,
in honor of Stephanie. Kyle and Abbygail will serve on the Youth Crew as volunteers during this year’s walk. “Through this, I’ve been able to reach out to other students with parents going through the same thing and I’ve told them that they can just appreciate their time because they don’t
know what’s going to happen,” shared Ryan.

One piece of advice the Will family wishes to pass on to other families going through this is to seek out additional medical opinions. Early on with Stephanie’s diagnosis of mastitis, she was treated repeatedly with antibiotics for an infection all while her mass grew to 12.2 centimeters over a period
of six months.

Ryan recalled being much younger watching his mom put together the logo design Fight Like a Girl made up of boxing gloves that now graces t-shirts and hats. Stephanie was a professional
photographer and that artistic aptitude has been passed down in the genes to Ryan who has an impressive portfolio of sketches and paintings.

To support the Will family in their endeavor, get online to donate toward their goal at: www.avonfoundation.org and search under Join us, then Find a Team and Stephanie Ann Will.


breast cancer ryan will cancer avon walk for breast cancer
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