BELDING, Mich., -- As people across the country pause to give thanks Thursday, Ryan Ball is most thankful for getting a second chance at life. The young father of two is back at home, just weeks after undergoing a successful surgery in Texas to remove a rare tumor on his brain stem.
"It's amazing," Ball told FOX 17 News. "It's a miracle. It really is a miracle."
FOX 17 first featured Ball and his family as he prepared to leave for Houston in early October. Ball, who'd been suffered from persistent, debilitating headaches,
learned of his cancer diagnosis about three years ago. He underwent surgery in West Michigan where doctors were able to remove about half of the tumor. He explained doctors believed going back to remove the rest of the tumor in a second surgery was just too risky.
"Everything was just up in the air," he said. "I have this beautiful new family, and I was at a point where things were finally straightening out."
Ball's fiancee, Brittany Lanning, was not ready to give up hope. After researching online, she found a Texas doctor, Dr. Dong Kim, who specializes in pineal gland
tumors. After flying down for a consultation, Dr. Kim told said he would take Ball's case and believed he could remove the entire tumor.
On October 7th, Ball underwent surgery and woke to learn the news that the tumor was completely gone.
"I wanted to cry," said Lanning. "I have felt the entire time that that was what was going to do the trick...I expected it, but it was still overwhelming."
Ball and his family remained in Houston for a couple of weeks before returning to West Michigan in late October. Weeks later, Ball said he is getting stronger every day. Recent brain scans continue to confirm the entire tumor is gone.
"It's hard to wrap my mind around," said Ball. "Seeing it there gone, just completely gone is a good feeling."
Now, Ball and Lanning are finally planning their wedding. They've had to postpone it several times, for the births of their son and daughter (now ages 1 and 3) and Ball's fight with cancer.
"I've had so many people tell me, now you can finally marry this woman," said Ball. There's no arm twisting here... She's the true miracle."
They've set a date: June 11, 2016.
"It's a complete dream come true," Lanning told FOX 17 News. "I've got my fiance back. We have our kids, we have everything."
Ball said his recovery is going so well that he won't need to visit the doctor for a check-up for a year.
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