Hello. My Name is Ryan.
I was never like the Incredible Hulk, but before all of this I was at least a fit and healthy man. Before my diagnosis, I had been playing Cricket every week during Summer and had started pre season training with my Rugby Club, Betws RFC.
I never smoked or drank alcohol excessively, so when this happened, I found it hard to understand how I became so ill, and it happened all so quickly. Within a few weeks.
I was a just another guy living it up and having fun…
I had a weeks holiday booked off work and me and a mate had were heading off on a holiday in Tenerife. We jetted off from Cardiff feeling excited and happy. The holiday went smoothly and I arrived home a week later with a nice glowing tan and empty pockets.
There was nobody at home at this point as my parents and my brother were all on their own holidays abroad. The first night home I had a bath and an early night. The next day I was feeling slightly ill and I surprisingly woke up on the bottom of the stairs, dazed and confused. After a few moments I realised that I had an epileptic seizure, these were not a surprise to me as I had suffered many in the past. I phoned my parents in Tenerife and we agreed for me to fly out and spend the week together. I booked a late flight and I flew out to meet them the next day.
It was beginning to happen too quickly
Three days into the holiday, I started to have pains in my gums and a lot of bleeding whilst brushing. I ignored it and continued to enjoy the sun. It started to get worse; a section of my gum had gone black and was extremely painful. I spent most of the remaining days in bed, managing to fly home a few days later dosed up on painkillers. During that week that followed I deteriorated rapidly, so much that I decided to ask for some time off of work to get better. I went to the Doctors. I had time off, and rest, bu the fatigue was getting ridiculous. I couldn’t stand for more than a few seconds without needing to sit down. I went back to work the after a week but it was useless. I couldn’t do my job. I was tired, in extreme pain and I had started to look ill. I remember my colleagues telling me to go home…So I did.
It was a long road to the right diagnosis
I went back to the Doctors and I was told I had a chest infection and was given antibiotics. I was also told that I should go to a Dentist to see about my gum problem. So I went straight to the Dentist. He advised me to go to A&E, as soon as possible.
The Dentist’s initial fear was that I had AIDS. Imagine; this was an extreme shock and an incredible worry for me and my family. Still, we tried to stay calm. My parents drove me down to A&E on that night. I remember being in so much pain, I could barely speak. I waited an hour and then I saw the on-call GP. He took a urine Sample and diagnosed me with a kidney infection and was prescribed with antibiotics yet again.
I managed to persevere with the pain for the next 2 days until it became too much. My Parents again drove me to A&E in Llanelli where, I sat in the waiting area, clenching my fists in pain. After 2 hours waiting my name was called; I felt relief thinking I was finally going to get answers. The Doctor gave me a thorough examination and was very polite and gentlemanly; he took blood samples and sent them off to the laboratory to be tested. A nurse then told me I would be staying overnight in the AMEU Ward. I said goodbye to my parents and fell asleep. I have been back and fore into hospital ever since.
Going forward, looking back
Looking back, the early days were overwhelming. I was a fit and healthy 22 year old sportsman, who didn’t smoke or take drugs and I had a job I really enjoyed. I found it hard to understand why all of this was happening to me but at the same time I understood that I needed to go through some bad times to get back to the good. I have always been determined to get over this disease and get my life back to normal as quickly as possible.
I came real close..
How long would I have lived if I hadn’t been taken to A&E on August 21st 2006 is terrifying. I had asked the question the morning after I had been admitted to the AMEU ward, and the doctor’s reply was worrying…he replied ‘Maybe a week or less’. That scared me. Knowing I had been pushed from pillar to post for weeks on end, prior to that A&E visit in Prince Phillip Hospital in Llanelli.
At that point everything was playing on my mind: The length of time I would be in hospital, being a cancer patient, chemotherapy and its terrible side effects and the fear of not achieving remission. Unfortunately I had been diagnosed with Acute Leukaemia Ph+ and I had to deal with that.
I decided to do something
I was going to #Keepfighting … not just for me, but for other suffers also..
So to help deal with my own condition, I set up a charity; Ryan4Leukaemia
Ryan4Leakaemia is a charitable, not-for-profit organisation that concentrates all its energy into helping local people/Hospitals and organisations. Its inception, ‘R4L’ has raised over £25,000. This money has been distributed with careful thought, to help ease the life of patients during treatment as well as improving the facilities and upgrading essential medical equipment.
Ryan4Leukaemia has been very fortunate to gain such a massive following from people locally and further afield. The trust is managed by Ryan and his Family.
Additionally, the support gained from Businesses and Celebrities was phenomenal. For this I am very humbled and grateful. Without this, the support offered to patients during their treatment would not be possible. Every donation received for R4L is used to help individuals in need of support via trusted partners in ‘R4L’.
The generosity in raising excess of £25,000 has made a big difference to patients and to the facilities available to them. The University Hospital of Wales (UHW) and Prince Phillip Hospital (PPH) have been the main beneficiaries of the money raised. The Chemotherapy Day Units at both Hospitals have been improved and new televisions in every patient cubicle on both Transplant Wards (UHW B4) and (PPH Wards 1&4) have been purchased, installed and enjoyed by many patients suffering from various cancers and illness.
I’ve had letters sent from the hospitals and patients who use the TV’s giving their appreciation – this had made the whole fund-raising process worthwhile. We have managed to provide a little support to a couple of young brave individuals who are battling their own unfortunate illnesses as well as helping Cylch Parcyrhun with a donation. We are really hoping Ryan4Leukaemia will continue to grow from strength to strength so the hospitals who are saving my life and continue to treat me to beat Leukaemia will benefit from our donations for many years to come.
I remember one V0iD song from those days… Behind My Smile and it inspired me;
Behind my Smile there is a hurting heart
Behind my laugh I’m falling apart
Behind My Smile there are tears at night
But behind my grin, is the desire to win…
Everyone sees who I appear to be, but only a few know the real me.
You only see what I choose to show
There’s a lot Behind my smile you just don’t know
HAVE YOU EVER HAD TO #KEEPFIGHTING AND GO ON AGAINST ALL ODDS? EVER FELT LIKE YOU MIGHT THROW THE TOWEL IN, AND DESPITE HEARING THAT VOICE INSIDE SAYING YOU DIDN’T HAVE IT IN YOU, HAVE KNOWN ALL ALONG THAT YOU HAVE TO KEEP GOING NO MATTER WHAT? TO KEEP FIGHTING ON… WE HEAR YOU. WILL YOU TELL US YOUR STORY?