Mrs. Ryan earlier this week was admitted to Riverside Medical Center in Kankakee. She was treated for a bout with pneumonia, but in the course of further medical tests, doctors now say the 76-year-old has lung cancer in an aggressive form.
That diagnosis was part of another legal filing Wednesday afternoon asking that the former governor be released from federal prison on bond so that he can be with his wife as his legal appeals are battled in court.
Lura Lynn Ryan suffers from pulmonary fibrosis, and in earlier presentations to the court, her doctors warned that Mrs. Ryan's condition was terminal. Her latest medical tests reveal that her health has deteriorated.
A doctor's report says that a CT scan performed two days ago reveals a large mass in Mrs. Ryan's lower left lung.
Dr. Mehmet Sipahi concludes that that it is a highly aggressive malignancy, a highly aggressive lung cancer, and that without systemic therapy Mrs. Ryan has three to six months to live.
"The idea that a woman of this age and her condition could undergo chemotherapy is almost not imaginable," said Jim Thompson. "So, the doctor says three to six months without treatment, and so my guess is that she'll have palliative care."
Former governor Thompson and George Ryan's team of attorneys have argued that Ryan's prison sentence should be reduced to time served because of the Supreme Court's decision on the "honest services" law.
While they wait for a ruling on that from trial Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer, they've asked that Ryan be released from prison on bond pending a most certain appeal. And, they argue, Mrs. Ryan's worsening condition warrants his release on bond.
"The situation was bad before, but it's dire now," said Andrea Lyons, attorney for George Ryan. "She had a large mass in her lung and it turns out there are lesions in her liver, back and hip bones. It's terminal."
"This is going to be a critical period in his life and in Mrs. Ryan's life," said Thompson, "and given the seriousness of the motion we made before, given the seriousness of her illness now, we think it's appropriate to grant bond."
Before Wednesday's medical news for Mrs. Ryan, her husband's attorneys had argued Mrs. Ryan's health was a strong reason -- among others -- for his release, and if he were to lose the "honest services" battle in the court of appeals, he'd go back to prison.
That Mrs. Ryan's health is worsening adds a measure of urgency to the decision.
"Anyone else, whether they were George Ryan or anyone else, would meet the same standard. We're not asking special treatment, we're asking for fair and humane treatment," said Lyons.
Three weeks ago, when both sides made their arguments in court, prosecutors said that while sympathetic to Mrs. Ryan's declining health, they were opposed to her husband's release on bond, and that other federal prison inmates may have similar circumstances without the expectation of special treatment.