Munster & Ireland Prop John Ryan Reveals His Long Battle With Illness
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“I definitely don’t think I’d be here if I hadn’t have found a cure.”
John Ryan has been one of Munster’s standout players this season, and you’d be forgive if you didn’t know the tighthead is very lucky to be playing rugby right now. When the southern province decided to not renew BJ Botha’s contract, many fans were scratching their heads, wondering what will they do at tighthead. Enter John Ryan.
The Cork native has been described as the in-form scrummager in the country, and was rewarded with an Ireland call-up in November. He started on the bench against Scotland on Saturday, and could very well end up starting against Italy this weekend, should Tadhg Furlong not recover.
It’s been a whirlwind few months for the front-row, but had he not found a cure for his Colitis, an inflammatory bowel disease, similar to Crohn’s Disease- he probably wouldn’t be here right now.
Ryan was diagnosed in 2011 and battled sudden spurts of weight loss for three years, but in 2014 his immune system spectacularly imploded under the enormous pressures placed upon his colon.
I think I was in a bit of denial back then. Luckily I came out the other end. I am okay now,” Ryan said
“But the way I was thinking was ‘if I don’t complain, it won’t be a problem’. The weight was falling off me and I had to take nearly three weeks out at that stage.
“I was denying the fact that I could be in a trouble, I thought I could keep playing through the illness. But I couldn’t.
“Those three weeks off really kind of helped me. I discovered new medication through my doctor and that just seemed to do the trick.
“Luckily I was one of the people with that condition who found the right mixture of medicine to get me through it, to live a normal life.
“It is common enough for males in their early 20s, and their 30s, and it can develop into Crohn’s Disease so that is not somewhere I want to be.
“If you don’t get the right medicine, you will end up having to get your colon removed.
“It had a huge effect. We won’t get into details – you can look it up yourselves – it is no way to live.
“As an athlete you are giving 60pc of your performance. It takes right away from your game. I am glad to see the back of it, hopefully.
“I am happy now that it is under control and is not really an issue any more, which is great.”
His battle isn’t over however, as he reveals that he still takes medication every day and gets an infusion every two months.
“I need medication, take it every day,” reveals the player whose current, consistent fighting weight is 118kg.
“I get an infusion every two months in the hospital and I was in there last week actually. So that is all under control now. Weight hasn’t been an issue ever since 2014.”
A true inspiration and a magnificent comeback story. Keep up the good work John.