Meet Ryan Manansala
We are pleased to introduce TransplantInformers readers to an outstanding focus patient: Ryan Manasala. The purpose of patient bios is to provide our patients with a voice, an outlet to share their story. This is very important with bone marrow/stem cell donor recruitment – the general public responds to our mission if they can put a face to the issue. Perhaps it’s why mobilizing donor outreach and education is a logical extension of Ryan’s search for a matching donor. Through interviewing him, we discovered a life journey punctuated with community service and guided by self-motivation.
Ryan was diagnosed with Acute Myelogenous Leukemia in 2011(AML). He was born in the San Francisco Bay Area at Stanford hospital. Early in his childhood he moved around a lot and finally settled down in San Jose when he was eight years old. He completed his educational career in San Jose, graduating from Yerba Buena High School in 2002. He attended Evergreen Community College, and then completed his Psychology degree at the University of California Santa Cruz, home of the Banana Slugs! During his time at UC Santa Cruz Ryan notes that he didn’t join campus organizations because he wanted to complete his degree in a timely manner. However he did become a “Lil bro” for the Sigma Omicron Pi sorority, commonly known as “Es Oh Pis.” The SOPi’s are advocates for our cause and have consistently helped AADP during college registration drives.
Growing up, Ryan found true motivation and positive influence through his parents. He knew that their influence made him the person he is today. But as an adult he understands that we should also seek out motivation internally.
Now that I’m older, I believe I’m the biggest motivator in my life. I think everyone should be like that at one point in their lives. Not in a selfish way, but in a way that your actions are not completely controlled by others.
Ryan has volunteered with EMQ Familesfirst as a big brother and a mentor for six years. Ryan highly recommends this program to others who are interested in making a difference in a young person’s life. He admits that it’s not easy. Being a big brother is not like a movie in which every problem is solved within 90 minutes. It’s a balancing act between your life and theirs. During his six years with the organization Ryan says his one meaningful experience is ongoing. He still keeps in touch with his little brother who has told Ryan that he’s made a huge impact on his life as his mentor and role model.
It was a lot of responsibility but you know you’re helping someone in some way. You might not see the change right away, but when you do, it’s something to be proud of. Not so much being proud of myself, but for my little bro, because I know it’s not easy trying to improve oneself with so much negativity around. Not only are you trying to help them change, you start realizing then you’re learning a lot from them and seeing a change in you.
Ryan also works as an Intervention Specialist for youth with developmental disabilities. He says that he didn’t have an initial interest in the field but knew he always had the qualities to be a mentor through his interactions with his own younger siblings and cousins. Ryan echoes Whitney Houston, who emphasized that the children are our future. By the time he turns 60, they will be running the world. So, he reasons in a matter-of-fact way, “[I] might as well help as many as I can.”
Amidst his work with the community and youth, Ryan has a musical side to him. When he was younger, music was simply a hobby to him. But ever since his hospital stay his hobby has made a comeback. Along with friends Ryan is currently working on some new songs. A few of them are about his experience with cancer. His creative process usually begins by listening to beats he discovers online to get the feel for a song. He doesn’t consider himself much of a rapper but more of a writer; one can argue he is akin to a poet. His heartfelt words, and the voices of many patients who share their experiences undoubtedly propel the efforts of donor recruitment.
Learn more about Ryan on his Facebook page, and register to become a potential bone marrow/stem cell donor to help Ryan and other patients who are searching for a transplant. You could be the one to save Ryan’s life.
James de Lara is the Senior Outreach And Volunteer Coordinator (Filipino Community) for the Asian American Donor Program.