Select Your Country
Your Cancer Journey

Cancer Survivors

Meet the survivors and read their stories.

Liam Ryan

Head and Neck Cancer

Liam Ryan has become one the greatest cancer survivors of all time

Out of nowhere, Liam Ryan has become one the greatest cancer survivors of all time. 14 years ago he was living in a little town in Ireland. He had never been ill, had never smoked and had run 6 marathons.

Then, he began to get headaches.

A week later he was diagnosed with one of the worst cases of Head & Neck cancer ever seen. His initial consultant told him it was the second worse case he had ever seen, and the worst case was dead in a month. Very few hospitals in the world, he told him, could even look at a case like this. He simply had no chance.

Liam would require hugely complex surgery to his head. To survive the operation alone would be an achievement. If treatment could be found he was likely to lose his sight, his speech, his hearing, his mobility, his brain function or more likely, some combination of all 5.

But his diagnosis was further compounded by needing two radical treatments, not just one. Because the tumour was so extensive radical radiotherapy would be required to eradicate the tumour left behind after surgery. Liam was told that only a handful of medics, in both cases, would be capable of performing the treatment required. And if such expertise could be found, the chances were the surgeon would be in New York, but the radiotherapist would be in Tokyo.

He needed both of them in the same place.

Eventually, Professor Simon Rogers and his great team in Liverpool wanted to offer Liam a chance. Although even there, they didn’t really believe he would make it. But he impressed them with his fighting spirit and his acceptance. They wanted to give him the chance to fight his cancer that he craved.

And this wonderful story was about to begin!

He underwent a huge 12 hour operation. They told him it was as big as surgery comes. Everything was at risk and the chances of survival or having any kind of a good quality of life afterwards, were very slim. Surgery was followed by 7 weeks of radical chemo-radiotherapy but in between he had critical setbacks with two bouts of bacterial meningitis and a deep vein thrombosis. All three of these ironically, nearly killed him by themselves.

By the end of 2002 Liam Ryan simply had no business still being alive, but incredibly, he still was.

A long and difficult rehabilitation followed but 7 years later the full inspirational value of this story began emerge when the extent of Liam’s amazing recovery was revealed. He was working again, back running and fully functioning just as he did before. Consultants everywhere were simply amazed. Apart from his eyepatch, it is almost as if he never had cancer. And in 2010 he returned to Liverpool to run a 10K with his surgeon and great friend, Simon Rogers.

By now Liam was receiving messages and emails from people all over the world telling him how inspirational they found his journey. The greatest ones said “I was giving up, until I read your story” So in 2012 he wrote a book so that the story was preserved for all time, “CANCER 4, ME 5, after extra-time”.

His book has now gone all over the world. He has told his story on both national radio and television in Ireland and England and most recently in the U.S. He now writes a monthly inspiration blog for a government agency in America that goes out to 12 million people across the globe. He connects directly with cancer patients every day.

As cancer stories go, this is one of the best there is. Liam Ryan has become the living proof that hope is never lost.

Liam Ryan

< Back to survivors

Tell Us
Your Story

Are you a cancer survivor? Share your own cancer journey with us…

Learn More

What's Going on in Your Area?

Look for any events that are local to you

Find Events

Sign Up to our Newsletter

To receive the very latest updates from Your Cancer Journey

Sign Up

Thank you
We have received your form submission!