Inspire 2023 - Ryan

“I live by the saying ‘It is what it is’ ... I have a tumour and doctors have done everything they can for now and couldn’t remove it. I have come to terms with that the best I can ... so I live every day as it comes.”

Ryan O’Shea, a 27-year-old police researcher and keen sportsman from Jersey, Channel Islands, will be taking part in this year’s Royal Parks Half Marathon, presented by Royal Bank of Canada, to raise money for research that could find a cure for his tumour.

In April 2022, when his speech started to stutter and his memory began to decline, Ryan went to the doctor – and after a series of scans, emergency appointments, and surgeries, he was diagnosed with Grade 1 diffuse astrocytoma, a slow-growing type of brain tumour.

“Everything happened so quickly to begin with, meaning I didn’t have much time to think - I was basically on autopilot. I did get upset but it was more for the people around me than myself. The hardest part emotionally came at the point of receiving the official diagnosis, the signing of the surgery paperwork and of course, signing my will which I never expected to do at that age.”

Despite having received double brain surgery, the location of Ryan’s tumour meant that it wasn’t possible to remove it and instead, he had a shunt installed which acts as an internal drain. As a result, Ryan will receive MRI scans every 6 months for the near future and possibly the rest of his life.

"If they do surgery again, it would be difficult and dangerous, so if there ever were a treatment to help with my condition, that would be amazing."

Determined not to let his condition get the best of him, Ryan is running the Royal Parks Half Marathon on the 8th of October in aid of the UK’s Brain Tumour Charity, the largest dedicated funder of research into brain tumours globally. He has already raised £890 for the charity and is hoping to increase this to £1,000 by race day.

“I’m really looking forward to the race which will be my second half marathon since receiving my diagnosis. I’ve always been a keen sportsman, and running has enabled me to cope with the mental pressure of a brain tumour. When I run, it is just me and the road - I can forget about everything happening in my life.”

“The Royal Parks Half Marathon is one of the UK’s most scenic half marathons, so I’m looking forward to enjoying the scenery and ultimately raising awareness for the Brain Tumour Charity, and the fact that brain tumours can happen to anyone at any age.”

Discussing his training, Ryan says: “I have always had a good mentality from my cycling days (I used to race for the island). I love training - it allows me to have a routine which was taken away from me after surgery and it makes me feel like a normal person. Right now, my training is quite up and down as I get fatigued a lot easier following my surgery, but that is something I’m having to get used to.”

Proving that anything is possible, Ryan completed the Island Walk, a 70km race in June of this year. Reflecting on his experience, Ryan recalls: 

“My feet blistered a lot more than I was planning and I fell ill the week before the event. It turns out I had a virus and ear infection (when I get ill my symptoms heighten) and I probably should have pulled out of the event but I don’t work like that. I had to fight through it and I’m so proud to have completed the event.”

“I live by the saying ‘It is what it is’, which I even have tattooed on me. I have a tumour and doctors have done everything they can for now and couldn’t remove it. I have come to terms with that the best I can. Not every day is great and I am aware things can change at any time and my life could get turned upside down again, so I live every day as it comes.”

“One thing that has helped me is making targets for the near future and I personally just aim for them. Life is for living and I draw a lot of my strength from thinking every day could be my last, you never know what could happen tomorrow.”

To donate to Ryan's cause, please visit his fundraising page below

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