Rylan Pruitt, a 6-year-old from Fort Worth, has been fighting a brain tumor since May. His family is asking for the community’s help celebrating his birthday on Saturday.
Rylan Pruitt, who turned 6 years old on Friday, lives in Fort Worth and loves to dance. He’s a fan of Spider-Man and dinosaurs on his T-shirts. He builds blanket forts with his mom, and they make TikToks together.
And in May, Rylan will be one year into his fight against a brain tumor for which he’s been treated at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. He and his parents, Marisa and Mike Pruitt, flew back home on Friday.
He’s been through 30 rounds of radiation treatment and undergone four months of chemotherapy as he and his doctors and family try to beat the cancer. Scans done Tuesday as his family packed to head home from St. Jude showed that Rylan’s cancer has metastasized to his spine.
The prognosis isn’t cheerful, but his family says they will continue to fight.
“Just because there’s a new tumor doesn’t mean we’re stopping,” his mom, Marisa Pruitt, told the Star-Telegram as she and Rylan were starting their drive from Memphis to Fort Worth on Friday evening. “We’re going to fight until we have to stop, and he’s not giving up anytime soon.”
But this weekend, instead of focusing on Rylan’s continuing fight with that cancer, his family and friends are putting their attention on that birthday he had Friday. And they’d like help from their community.
His family has invited anybody who wants to help Rylan celebrate his birthday to join with neighbors, police, firefighters, paramedics, monster trucks, race cars, and Batman in a parade on Saturday.
Anybody who wants to help bring a little cheer to Rylan’s birthday can join them by 1 p.m. Saturday at the Eaton High School parking lot, 1350 Eagle Blvd. in Haslet, where the parade will be staging. From there, the parade will drive by Rylan’s home with a police escort.
The family is also asking for prayers for their little TikTok star-in-the-making.
Rylan’s mom manages his TikTok under the handle MarisaTexas89, where she posts updates about Rylan, like a picture slideshow with the caption, “Rylan isn’t done fighting! Share his story and please pray!”
Most of the TikToks starring the 6-year-old show him in high spirits, dancing or playing with Legos.
But others document the pain and struggles both he and his mom go through as he undergoes treatment.
The family also keeps a blog of Rylan’s journey on Facebook: Rylan Strong, Team Beans.
There, his mom and dad post live videos and announcements of progress. It’s where they first on Jan. 4 announced the parade for Rylan, originally supposed to be a celebration of both his birthday and the victorious end of his fight with cancer.
That’s where many of his supporters found out about the results of the scans, when Marisa and Mike Pruitt went live.
“You’re gonna have to just give me patience through this one,” Mike Pruitt said at the start of the announcement.
He and Marisa Pruitt made an emotional call for continued support for Rylan and for the two of them in the Facebook Live.
“First and foremost, if you’re a prayer warrior, I have begged for prayers,” Mike Pruitt, a paramedic in Dublin Cancer, said. “He needs them more than me.”
Mike Pruitt said the scans were done as a routine precaution before Rylan could go home with clear results. But the scans showed the metastasized cancer on his spine, even after chemo and proton radiation therapy. Doctors told the family that the result was exceedingly rare.
“We expected it to maybe come back at the 3-month mark but not here, at the end of his treatment,” Marisa Pruitt told the Star-Telegram. “He just turned 6 today. He hasn’t even gotten to experience what kindergarten is like.”
And Rylan has been strong through it all, Marisa Pruitt said. The energy he has and his positive attitude suggested things were all moving in the right direction.
“Besides the typical cancer-looking kid with the bald head, you’d never know he was facing cancer,” she said. “He runs circles around you and has so much energy and always has a smile on his face.”
Even with a less-than-optimistic prognosis, his family isn’t giving up.
In six weeks, Rylan and his mom will return to St. Jude for more scans. At that point, the family will sit down with doctors to talk about possible treatment paths or “if it’s the conversation parents don’t ever want to have.”
Mike Pruitt said in the livestream that he won’t give up and is trusting God to do what needs to be done.
“I refuse to give into ideals that are man-made because I know that there is only one person that can fix this, and even in the last shred of faith that I have, I know, I know that it is still possible. What we do now doesn’t matter. This is in God’s hands.”
His parents described Rylan as resilient and courageous, taking on more than Mike or Marisa Pruitt would ask even of themselves.
“I refuse to believe that this is the end,” Mike Pruitt said.
Rylan will have new scans done at the beginning of March, but his parents said Rylan deserves the month he’ll have away from St. Jude to take a break.
While St. Jude pays for everything Rylan and his mom need in Memphis, such as housing, medical bills and food, the family has had to find ways to cover expenses back home as well.
Fundraisers have been set up for both Mike and Marisa Pruitt. Marisa Pruitt, a teacher, has been living with Rylan in Memphis since his treatments started there last year. She said support from family and friends is the only thing that’s allowed her to pay bills and make sure they have a home to come back to, since she can’t work right now.
Anybody who wants to help with those expenses can donate to his GoFundMe, gofundme.com/f/make-rylan-pruitt-well-again, set up by his grandmother and with funds going to his mom, or another fundraiser on that site for him, gofundme.com/rylan-needs-us-and-cancer-can-suck-it, organized by Servant Souls RCA and Cristy Williams, with funds going to his dad.
“I know there’s some prayer warriors out there,” Mike Pruitt said at the close of the livestream. “So please, if that’s what you do, please do it. That’s what we need. He’s only 6, and he has brightened the world and nobody’s ready to let him go.”
This story was originally published January 14, 2022 4:30 PM.
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James Hartley is a breaking news reporter at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. He is passionate about true stories, movies, baseball and good hot tea. You can connect with James on Twitter @ByJamesHartley or Instagram @JamesTakesPhotos. | Want reporters like James to help you stay informed about your community? You can help the Star-Telegram continue to offer great local, business, political, sports and culture news by purchasing a digital or print subscription today.