Some people’s lives are changed after getting cancer once, now imagine enduring it four times.
This was the reality for Liverpool-born, Runcorn-bred Shaun Loughran, who has endured a “scary and anxious” two years.
To make this incredible journey even more inspiring, Loughran has just finished completing the footballing game of keepy-uppies at his favourite locations across the country to raise over £3,500 for Cancer Research cause: The Bobby Moore Fund.
MerseySportLive spoke to Shaun to hear his story…
With anxiety sweeping across the nation amidst the looming Covid pandemic in 2020, cancer diagnosis would be a crushing blow to anyone.
On January 3rd, after a few months of reporting health problems to his doctors, a sigmoidoscopy scan at Glan Clwyd hospital revealed Loughran had cancer in his bowel and liver.
He was just 38 years old at the time, this was devastating news delivered to an engaged father of two children aged two and six. Shaun described the pressure he felt: “I would spend hours teaching myself how to speak to them in a way that doesn’t worry them too much.”
“My wife’s been brilliant, after my appointments I can’t speak to people straight away and she’s been doing my phone calls telling family and friends about the news.”
“You’ve got to be careful you don’t go into a mad depression because of these things.”
Chemotherapy began just four days before the national lockdown. The Scouser took the treatment head-on and rang the bell 15 weeks later to give the go ahead for surgery to remove the tumour.
Loughran was declared cancer-free for the entirety of 2021, but this was not the end.
An unwelcomed return
Scans in March 2022 revealed the cancer in his Liver had returned. With his wedding in Turkey to 10-years engaged partner Jenni just round the corner.
Shaun said: “I wanted this wedding, the holiday and the break with my family and friends so badly!” Through chemotherapy, willpower, and determination Shaun got his wedding in early August, which “Couldn’t have gone more perfectly.”
The cancer was not going to let go so easily, as on the first day of his honeymoon, doctors told Loughran the growths had returned in his Liver and his abdomen.
“I thought to myself things like am I going to have to help arrange my own funeral? I wondered who would turn up to it and so on.”
At this point he was being looked after by teams in Liverpool, Wales, and Manchester, all focusing on a different organ.
The amazing NHS
Loughran has acknowledged the work the NHS as “amazing”: “All the striking is completely justified, they need to get a pay rise, it’s ridiculous what the government are doing. Rafa Diaz at Aintree, Dr. Rehman and Dr. Akbar at Glyn Clwyd and their teams at every centre deserve the credit.”
During his next round of chemotherapy to fight the returning liver growth, painful headaches began to bother and hinder Prestatyn-based Shaun five weeks in. Precautionary brain scans at Glan Clwyd unveiled a shocking setback, a cancerous growth on the back of his brain.
Now admitted to Walton Neurology Centre, the anxiety piled on once again for the veteran cancer fighter. The miracle of modern medicine however, had a different plan.
Within two weeks of diagnosis, in the middle of October, Loughran’s brain tumour was removed by Dr. Farouq Olubajo and staff at the WNC, for whom he is full of praise: “The care I received there is the best care I’ve ever received in my life. Dr Olubajo is one of the most amazing human beings I’ve ever met!”
Kicking out cancer
Inspired by the amazing work done by doctors across the country to keep him alive, Shaun decided to give something back. Throughout the month of November this year he travelled across the north and parts of Wales to complete keepy-uppies from his own back garden to inside of the Anglican Cathedral.
The journey symbolized Loughran’s indomitable spirit, a statement to those dealing with cancer that there is light at the end of the tunnel.
The starting target of £500 was surpassed in the first week. As of today, the funds raised exceed £3,500 and only keep growing, Loughran says he is confident it will hit £4k.
The Evertonian’ s endeavours hit cloud-nine when he found out he would be doing keepy-uppies on the Goodison pitch with Toffees legend, Graham Stuart.
Speaking to ITV Granada, Shaun said: “I’m absolutely blown away, I can’t believe it, I’ve been an Evertonian all my life, following in my dad’s footsteps, so to have a kick-about with Graham is a once in a lifetime opportunity.”
Shaun left with a shirt signed by Everton and England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford.
With supporters in America now learning of Mr. Loughran’s cause he is leaving the fundraiser doing all he can to support those who supported him:
“I’m going to do a brave the shave day for Macmillan with my mates at a bar somewhere, we’re going to throw in some money and do some fun things.”
He had some final words of hope for people dealing with cancer across the globe: “I want people to know that there’s a lot more positivity in the world of cancer research than what is said on the news, everything is changing.”
“Having a positive mindset will increase your chances massively.”
You can find Shaun’s fundraiser here. – https://fundraise.cancerresearchuk.org/page/shauns-bobby-moore-fund-keepy-uppy-challenge-giving-page-9?fbclid=IwAR3egyPY8Ke4S7yXI0j-FDFQ83lS-hg2IFz0bXPWIgbkvl_YPFZsLQ5YmaY
If you or someone you know needs cancer support, you can find help on these websites:
Visit the Macmillan Cancer support website
Macmillan support number – 0808 808 00 00
Visit the Cancer Research support website
Cancer Research support number – 0808 800 4040
*This article was first published by the Liverpool Echo