A man diagnosed with stage four cancer at age 22 says the first warning sign after three beers was serious illness.
Ryan Lloyd, now 26, first suspected something was wrong when he woke up in the middle of the night after visiting a Christmas market in 2018 feeling terribly ill.
Ryan, from Birmingham, at first thought he had the stomach flu from the glasses, but over the next two months he lost 5 pounds and suffered from night sweats.
Tests showed that his white blood cell count was high.
After Ryan, who works as a procurement and transportation specialist, suffered from “excruciating” back pain, a PET scan and biopsies finally revealed that cancer was the cause
Around Easter 2019, he was diagnosed with stage four Hodgkin lymphoma, a form of blood cancer, and was told the devastating news that it was in his bone marrow, hips, spine, neck and spleen.
He said: “I immediately thought of the worst. But somehow I was happy because I finally knew why I was feeling so sick – there was actually a reason.
“It was very strange to know that the first sign came from some innocent drinks. I didn’t react that way [to beer] in the past, so I’ve been through everything now, it’s good.’
Ryan underwent six months of chemotherapy at the Teenage Cancer Trust (TCT) ward at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham from June 2019.
His girlfriend Jess, whom he met in college in 2015, and his parents took turns keeping him company during this time, and in January 2020 he was awarded the all-clear.
Unfortunately, tests in 2021 found irregularities in his red blood cell count and after further biopsies, Ryan received the devastating news that his cancer was back – this time in his throat and spleen.
Due to Covid restrictions, Ryan was not allowed company on the ward during his chemotherapy.
In July of that year, Ryan was again acquitted and, armed with his health, set himself on a very important mission: to propose to Jess.
He said: “Jess was so supportive during my first treatment and I started thinking about proposing to her.
“I thought if we can beat that, we can do anything together.
“We’ve seen each other through our worst times and being there for each other through that process has definitely made us stronger.
“While I was recovering from my stem cell transplant in the hospital, I had a lot of time to think about it. I started planning where and when to propose and thinking about rings.
“It gave me something to look forward to on the bad days when I thought my treatment would never end.”
During a trip to Wales in August 2021, his plans came true and he popped the question. Now the couple is planning a summer wedding.
Ryan said, “It’s fun to focus on and it seems like the perfect end to part of my life and the wedding starts a new chapter in my life with Jess.”
“Cancer made me who I am and now I’m moving on.”
Ryan finds the support of the TCT charity extremely important to his cancer journey and is grateful to sister Jenny and Youth Care Coordinator Cathy for their company and support.
He said: “The staff at the Teenage Cancer Trust got to know Jess and me really well. It helped both of us because I felt comfortable with them and had new people to talk to when I was around, but it also meant that Jess knew I was in safe hands when she couldn’t be there, and she was less worried.
“I almost got to know them as friends rather than hospital staff, and we had good conversations and laughs whenever I was inside.”
He is now backing TCT’s new partnership with fundraising platform Omaze, giving someone the chance to win a £2,000,000 luxury three-storey, four-bedroom villa in Marbella with £250,000 in cash.
Ryan said: “I am delighted that the Teenage Cancer Trust is working with Omaze again. The partnership is a fantastic way not only to raise money but also to raise awareness so the charity can continue to help young people with cancer , just as they helped me.
“The house in Marbella looks incredible and whoever wins it will be very lucky. But for everyone else who didn’t win the grand prize, at least they helped a very good cause.’
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