When John Ryan completed the London Marathon in April this year, he felt a great sense of pride in himself. Not only had he managed to complete the mammoth run in just over five hours but he had also managed to raise in excess of £1000 for the Foyle Hospice. This was all the more remarkable as John has himself battled, and beaten, cancer three times.
The Luton-born man, who has strong connections back in Derry, said he had been inspired to run for the Foyle Hospice after they cared for his cousin Dermot O’Donnell’s wife Cathy before she sadly lost her battle with cancer in 1996.
“I’ve been cancer free for 17 years now,” John said, revealing he was first diagnosed when he was just 13 years-old and was recovering from a bout of the mumps.
“When I recovered from that, it seemed there was a small lump on the side of my neck.” That lump continued to grow and three months later he was given the devastating diagnosis of Hodgkins Disease. Four months of radiotherapy followed and things were going well until two years later when the cancer returned.
“The specialists decided that eight courses of chemotherapy was the best solution for someone of my age. During this I developed serious nausea and spent some time in hospital and after six courses they decided to carry out a scan to see if they could give me the all-clear. They did and in June 1989 I was again in remission.”
However the cancer was to return again just after John’s 19th birthday when he developed serious headaches and night sweats. Diagnosed this time with Non- Hodgkins Lymphoma, he faced yet more chemo and a bone marrow transplant before for the third time he was given the all-clear.
Thankfully he has remained clear ever since.
However, he admits that as the years have passed he hasn’t always looked after himself. Last year, he decided “enough was enough” and spurred on by his friends Teague Whoriskey and Ciaran Bradley, who are members of Foyle Valley Running Club, he decided to begin training for the London Marathon with the intention of raising money for the Hospice.
“The run was a brilliant experience and I hope to do it again next year and better my time. But I have done something I never thought I would do and made friends for life while doing it.
“Running for the Foyle Hospice and with the team was brilliant.”