Warwick community rallying around longtime pizza shop owner battling cancer
The owner of Don's Pizza, Donald Ryan, is battling stage four cancer, and says because the chemotherapy is just too much on him to continue working, he'll be selling the business.
WARWICK, R.I. (WLNE) – The community is rallying around a local pizza shop that’s been a part of Warwick for decades.
The owner of Don’s Pizza, Donald Ryan, is battling stage four cancer, and says because the chemotherapy is just too much on him to continue working, he’ll be selling the business.
He’s been temporarily closed, but the phone is still ringing off the hook.
“They keep on calling. I’m the best – the food is the best, my recipes are the best,” said Ryan.
Don isn’t answering, which led customer Joanne Miller to show up in person Wednesday night.
“I said, ‘Your phone line’s out,'” said Miller. “And he said ‘I know.’ And then he said, ‘I have to get my house in order because I have stage four cancer.'”
Ryan, who’s run his restaurant on Warwick Avenue for 39 years, has been battling stage four prostate cancer for the last two years.
“At that point I didn’t know if I was going to be living for six months, or a year, or whatever,” Ryan recalled from when he was diagnosed.
The Warwick native had a treatment that was keeping it at bay, but the cancer recently began to spread again.
Now, he says medical bills, and bills for the business, are piling up. Because of the toll treatment is taking on his body, he’s in the process of selling the city staple.
“So now I’ve started chemo and I’m not able to – I thought I could continue working with it but emotionally and physically I can’t,” explained Ryan.
Since Don’s Pizza has been a fixture in the Warwick community for nearly 40 years, Miller posted on Facebook urging people to send cards and well wishes. She hoped the community would show its support for Don, and she got an overwhelming response.
“Made the post and – I love Warwick. The community here is really incredible. And they rallied.”
The post garnered thousands of likes and hundreds of comments, of prayers, and stories of memories made at his restaurant. Some even popped cards in the mail.
Ryan says, no matter what happens, he’s proud to have served the community for as long as he has.
“Thank you for helping me, thank you for supporting me,” said Ryan. “It’s been a great 40 years.”
Ryan says he’s temporarily closed for now while the business is in the process of being sold, and is planning to be open some days, here and there, depending on how he feels after chemotherapy.
He also says he’s planning to be there when the new owners start, to get them off to a good start.
A GoFundMe was created to help Ryan.