HE was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer at the tender age of four and was forced to have his right eye removed in order to survive.
And now, after overcoming reconstruction surgery and a series of other health complications, Ryan Walker, 18, is determined not to let the past get in the way of his dream of becoming a musician.
The self-proclaimed ‘One-Eyed Musician’, who is studying maths at Edinburgh College, told the Evening News he wants to inspire other children to stick to their goals – no matter what they’ve experienced in the past.
“It’s weird because up until recently, I always wished I was ‘normal’,” Ryan, from Penicuik, said. “Teachers would offer me extra help at school because they knew what I was going through, but I would always be stubborn and refuse.
“I guess having one eye is a bit weird, but I can still see.
“The way I look at it now is – there’s always someone out there worse than me.”
Ryan, a former pupil of Firrhill High School, recalled the emotional moment he was told he would lose his eye after being diagnosed with Rhabdomyosarcoma.
He said: “The cancer presented itself as a tumour under my right eye. Multiple attempts trying to cure it through radiotherapy and chemotherapy weren’t successful, so at the age of six, doctors had to make the crucial decision to remove my right eye and the entire surrounding area to stop the cancer from spreading.
“I was too young to understand but according to my mum I cried for about an hour when she told me. It was what came next that I remember, a lot of reconstruction surgery – one of the operations lasted 12 hours.
“It left me with scars all over my body, and a muscle and vein short on my left arm. They put skin across my eye. I also have a severe intestinal disease called hirschsprung’s, which causes me to end up in hospital with severe stomach cramps.”
Ryan, who works part-time in Tesco, has written a song about the difficulties he faced as a child.
He said: “At high school things were quite difficult – I always kept thinking to myself what would my life be like if this hadn’t happened.”
Up until now, the teenager said he never believed in himself enough to pursue his love of music but after his grandad died a few months ago, things changed. Ryan is now raising funds to buy himself more musical equipment. He added: “I had guitar lessons at school and I’ve always loved music and writing songs. My grandad bought me my first guitar so when he passed away, I decided to get back into it again.
“My drive and passion for music is what keeps me going and I’d like to become a musician. I don’t want to be a superstar, I just want to be someone that will inspire others never to give up on their dream.”
To donate to Ryan’s dream, visit his GoFundMe Page: https://www.gofundme.com/gx9xa-one-eyed-musician-music-vs-cancer