‘Smiley Riley’ the 6-year-old who beat cancer gets a hero’s welcome on his return home


Maryland boy ”Smiley Riley” is celebrating beating cancer in an 18-month fight that attracted the attention of Hollywood celebrities.

On Easter Sunday 2019 Riley was diagnosed with high-risk neuroblastoma, meaning his tumor couldn’t be removed and had spread.

His mom Ashley Whitney said Riley, who was 5 at the time, actually had multiple tumors.

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A year ago today Riley was starting one of his hard treatments-iMIBG Radiation therapy! This was up in Philly and it required us being separated from the other boys for a little while. It took 3 adults to help with this treatment, so we could limit our own radiation exposure. • Riley was pretty much chained to the bed for a week. He had metal walls around him and could not be touched for 4 weeks. He had an NG tube and catheter placed. My sister, Ben and I took turns staying with him. Everything was radioactive and it was a tough week to say the least! • Fast forward to today with my Cancer Free Buddy having an incredible appointment with Dr. Meany! His counts were great! He no longer has to have his infusion for his Blood Issue-HUS! No protein or blood in his urine! Blood pressure was down! He was given the green light to start his 6th cycle of immunotherapy which are pills twice a day for 2 weeks! • She also gave us a timeline for finishing up. Scans, testing and biopsies will be done in the next few weeks. This will give her a new baseline to go by for Riley! His port should be removed in late August/early September and it will be an outpatient surgery. Then scans will be every 3 months for a year!! • Prayers were heard! Prayers were answered! My heart is elated, wowed and grateful! Looking where we were a year ago and looking at today…I’m blown away! Miracles happen! Time, love, hard work, faith and so much more got us to this point! • I know so much hate, illness, and hurt are present at this time and it seems impossible that it will change! But God can make change happen. He can change hearts. He can heal. He can mend the broken. I have seen Riley literally broken with his future of living unknown, and I have seen a miracle happen in his life! It didn’t happen immediately. It took time. But love, prayers, hard work, faith-God-got us through this trial! 🙌🏼🎗 #thehometeam #smileyrileystrong #butgod #cancersucks #miracles #healingtakestime #blessed #thankful

A post shared by Ashley Whitney (@thehometeam6) on Jul 15, 2020 at 10:30am PDT

“He’s gone through about five chemos, surgery to remove tumors, he’s done radiation therapy,” Ashley told ABC7 reporter Victoria Sanchez.

“I’ve seen my own child hurt and go through things that I wish I could take in his place,” the mother of four boys said.

The family had to travel back and forth while Riley started treatment at the Children’s National Hospital in Washington D.C.

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Day 1 is done! 🙌🏼 • He had Lexi girl aka Mamacita as his nurse for the past 2 nights and his heart was happy! He got to see some of his special friends like Miss Claire and Miss Virginia (his Alabama Girl🐘)! He FaceTimed Aunt Courtney and Allie which always brings a smile to his face! He created lots of lego masterpieces, watched movies and we just hung out! • The treatment started about 1:30 yesterday and finished about 12:30am this morning. Overall he did great! He started having some pain about 8 last night and we had to catch up with some pain pushes. He is retaining fluid so they gave him meds to help flush him out. But all of these side effects are normal and manageable. • 1 down and 3 to go! I’m thankful! We are going to keep plugging along and manage his pain. His main oncologist, Dr. Meany (who is anything but mean 💖) is the Doctor on call for the week. What are the odds (BUT GOD). So we get to see her everyday! She gave us some good news yesterday that the urine they took from Riley on Friday had very little blood in it. So she believes he will be able to do his pill form of immunotherapy which is technically the 6th round but it will only be pills at home for 14 days. She will check his urine again on Friday to give us the green light on that. • This morning in my quiet time I was reading in 1 Thessalonians 5. Verse 16 is short but I have tucked in my heart. “Be JOYFUL ALWAYS.” This week comes with ups and downs. But in all of it, I have to find joy! Joy always fills you with light even when there is darkness around you. Yes, Riley’s in pain but we can manage it. Yes, he’s retaining fluid but we can flush him. And so far NO FEVER which means no Covid quarantine. You have to choose joy like my Pastor Bill said this week “Rejoice is a Choice!” • Thank you for praying! We are getting closer to that finish line🤗👊🏼 #thehometeam #smileyrileystrong #butgod #cancersucks #rejoiceisachoice #bejoyfulalways

A post shared by Ashley Whitney (@thehometeam6) on Jun 9, 2020 at 5:21am PDT

He had treatment through COVID lockdown and visitations were stopped but throughout it all Riley never stopped smiling.

“Actually, he was born smiling practically, and he has always had this joyful disposition,” Ashley said, as per Fox News. “He is our Smiley Riley and he has been since day one.”

For 18 months “Smiley Riley” endured treatment and the hospital became his home. But the now 6-year-old has beaten this horrific disease and got to throw away the bag that contained his medications.

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After a long week with last week’s scans, biopsies, tests and a zoom call, we got final word today….. MIBG-Clear Bone Marrow-Clear CT Scan-Clear 🙌🏼🙌🏼🙌🏼🙌🏼 • Riley has OFFICIALLY COMPLETED his Cancer Treatment and beat High Risk Neuroblastoma! • He’s still Standing! He’s a TRUE SURVIVOR! He’s looking like a little kid! After all this time, he’s picking up the pieces without CANCER on his mind! (He had a hospital playlist of songs and this was one of his favorites!) • God was Riley’s fortress. God was Riley’s refuge. God was Riley’s strength. BUT GOD got Riley through this battle! • Riley will get his port out at the end of August. The only negative result was his hearing tests. He has lost some hearing but we will monitor and take it one day at a time. Please be in prayer that it doesn’t get worse. • Thank you for being on this journey with us! Thank you for praying! Thank you for checking in! Thank you for all the love and support! • What have I learned from Riley (well there isn’t enough space to write) but if you get knocked down…you get back up, trust God, love others, receive their love, fight and keep fighting and most importantly SMILE through the storm! 🙌🏼💛🎗😄💪🏼 #thehometeam #smileyrileystrong #butgod #cancersucks #stillstanding #smileinthestorm #somegoodnews #scansareclear #cancerfree

A post shared by Ashley Whitney (@thehometeam6) on Aug 12, 2020 at 5:41pm PDT

“I kicked cancer’s butt. I kicked cancer’s butt!” Riley said in a sing-song voice, during an interview with ABC7 News.

When Riley finally returned home he was met with a street parade to cheer him on where family, friends and neighbors held up signs congratulating him.


Riley’s happy disposition throughout his ordeal even attracted the attention of celebrities. Hollywood stars Kristen Bell and Chris Hemsworth both spoke to Riley through a video call.

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Well, Day 2 just finished! Pain was managed and he’s pressing on! Half way done! 👊🏼🙌🏼 • He had a special treat tonight all the way from the Land Down Under! Riley and some of the other Superheroes here at Children’s National got to meet Chris Hemsworth aka Thor! 🤗🤩🤯 • Of course Riley asked him very important questions like besides Thor who is his favorite Superhero and what is his favorite emoji?! • So thankful to @childrensnational @ryanfoundation and @chrishemsworth for making this happen for my little Superhero 🦸‍♂️ #thehometeam #smileyrileystrong #butgod #cancersucks #thor #avengers #chrishemsworth #blessednotstressed #halfwaythere

A post shared by Ashley Whitney (@thehometeam6) on Jun 9, 2020 at 7:59pm PDT

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness month so lets honor all the medical staff who do all they can to save the lives of those kids who have to endure the unimaginable and share this story.

Congratulations Riley!

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Count Down To Bell Ringing Day-3 days to go! Childhood Cancer Awareness Month!💛🎗 • Did you know it takes a team to save a child’s life?! Doctors, Nurses, Techs, Researchers, Child Life Specialists, Radiology Team, Hospital Educators, Art Therapists, Music Therapists, Massage Therapists, Dog Therapists, Clowns, Environmental Services, Food Services, Desk Receptionists and so many other men and women. • If I had to give a word to our team @childrensnational it would be CARE! Our team gave our Smiley Riley their very best all day-every day! Their commitment, compassion and care surpassed my expectations and that hospital became our home because of the people in it. They didn’t stop fighting for Riley even when things were hard. The care he received from Children’s saved his life! • The head of our team, Dr. Meany, is one incredible woman. Then there’s Dr. Matt, Dr. Telaraja, Dr. Perez and so many other doctors. Then we have his Nurse Practitioners like Kelly, Lindsey, Katie, Stacy and many more. • His favorite nurse Lexi aka Mamasita he considers to be one of his best friends. All of those nurses on the 4East oncology floor both inpatient and outpatient have my heart! They were there for all of it and loved our child. They danced at 11:00 at night for my buddy! They saved his life when he had an allergic reaction to chemo! They gave his brother a birthday party in the hospital because he couldn’t go home for it. They held me when I cried. • But it took many others like Mr Joe, Tawny, Barbara, Julio, Roc, MG, Elizabeth, Jane, Beth, Company, Zing, Mr. Robert, the clowns and the list could go on and on-All of these people came into our lives and left an imprint on our hearts forever! #thehometeam #smileyrileystrong #butgod #cancersucks #childhoodcancerawareness #somegoodnews #countdowntobellringing #team

A post shared by Ashley Whitney (@thehometeam6) on Sep 8, 2020 at 8:59pm PDT

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