Ryan’s Story


After a close friend was diagnosed with colorectal cancer in Sept 2018, I was so shocked I went to my GP about some concerns. I was referred for a colonoscopy and diagnosed with colorectal cancer on November 12 2018, aged 47.

The usual tests followed and I was lucky for the tumour to be removed via surgery in the December. I had 20cm of colon removed and was put on a bag – being informed I didn’t require radiation or chemo. However I got CDiff (it’s gross, don’t get it!!!) after my bag reversal operation which made me very sick for a few months.

It might have been that I did too much, too early after the surgery, or that I just had a weakness in the area, but I got a number of hernias which made recovery a little harder. I kept having CT and PET scans and the doctors were concerned about my lymph nodes which were “glowing”.

Towards the end of 2020, a node was taken from my armpit, and they told me I had non-Hodgkinson’s lymphoma which was pretty heart-breaking after the bowel cancer journey. Three days later they told me the diagnosis was incorrect and that I did in fact have an auto immune condition called CVID (common variant immunity disorder).

In the time since I was diagnosed until now I’ve lost a band mate to bowel cancer, my friend who had colorectal cancer has had 6 more operations, and the GP that saved my life – died from lung cancer.

Every time an unlisted phone number comes up, my heart plummets. So many calls such as the one made by an admin person not understanding the seriousness of asking if I’m aware of my pending meeting with the blood cancer doctor – so many moments have left me wanting to say, and excuse my French, “f*@k off and just let me be”. 

I got lucky. I’m lucky to be standing here being able to say it. I’m a very polite person, a singer who writes nice, thoughtful songs. But cancer isn’t polite, it’s not thoughtful and it doesn’t worry about offending anyone.

So I wrote and recorded a song called ‘The Uninvited Guest’, and it features the words “f*@k off and just let me be” because that’s my feeling. I don’t pretend to speak for everyone, but many people on a cancer journey are buying the t-shirts and thanking me for making it ok for them to say it like it is.

What makes it special for me is that my daughter is on backing vocals in the chorus and the end.

I have also recorded a PG version, just to ensure the message gets to everyone, however I prefer the sweary version because that’s how I felt when I wrote it at Wellington Regional Hospital after my first operation.

You can listen to Ryan’s song here: