News & Insights
Chasing dreams in the face of cancer: Andrew Ryan’s story
“I never wanted to let cancer stand in the way of my goals – I’ve always thought it was best to deal with this terrible disease head on.”
Ahead of World Cancer and Daffodil Day 2023 we spoke to Andrew Ryan, an electrical engineer working for Mercury on the New Children’s Hospital Project in Dublin, Ireland. Andrew embodies the essence of determination and resilience.
At 26, he was faced with the devastating news of a cancer diagnosis, but he refused to let it define his life. Despite several health challenges over the past decade, Andrew remains optimistic and continues to pursue his dreams. He has a passion for sports, a successful career as an electrical engineer with Mercury, and a growing family. He is also dedicated to raising awareness about cancer, particularly among men who often struggle to talk about their health.
His career in construction began with an electrical apprenticeship at Mercury and Andrew later earned a bachelor’s degree in Sustainable Design of Electrical Services Engineering. In 2013, he moved to New Zealand to further his career, but soon discovered a lump that would lead to a diagnosis of testicular cancer. Despite the setback, Andrew underwent successful treatment and returned to New Zealand in 2015.
Determined to live life on his terms, Andrew continued to pursue his hobbies, and his unwavering passion for Gaelic Football helped his team to win the New Zealand Championship in 2015. However, the highs of this sporting achievement were soon to be accompanied by a devastating low – a follow-up scan with his doctor revealed that his cancer had spread. Andrew immediately underwent nine weeks of intensive chemotherapy. Despite the difficulties he faced, Andrew continued to work and play football.
“The chemo involved coming into the hospital for multi-hour-long stints, and while this was tough, my outlook remained positive,” he recalls. “I continued with my football and work, none of that ever gave way. It was fight or flight, and I knew I had to keep my head up high.” Around this time, Andrew and his partner discovered that they were expecting their first child, and they returned to Ireland for his daughter’s birth in late 2015.
Andrew re-joined Mercury in 2016 as an electrical engineer, and worked on a range of complex projects in Ireland. After returning home, Andrew, and his recently married wife Gráinne welcomed the birth of Theodore, and while this brought joy to his family, there were further challenges to come. “I always dealt with this in a straight up manner and listened to the doctors’ orders – I’ve had to go through continued stints of monitoring.”
This involved going for a check-up every three months, which involved series of CT scans and blood tests, and as Andrew’s health improved the timeframe between appointments was first increased to every six months, then nine, and eventually, he was only required to go for scans every year or two. During a check-up in 2020, it was discovered that one of Andrew’s lymph nodes had increased in size. He underwent another major complex procedure to offset the risk of this being related to cancer. “The operation went very well thankfully,’’ he notes.
Andrew is passionate about raising awareness and encouraging men in particular to talk about their problems. “I’m a mental health first aider here on site and I want to assist my colleagues in any way I can. I know from speaking in the past that it can help. When I was home from New Zealand, I told two of my friends about my experience with cancer which led to them checking, and they also found lumps. Fortunately for both, they were detected early, which allowed them to get suitable procedures and following on – get the all clear. This just highlights the importance of talking to each other.’’
He credits his family and support network who have been instrumental and ‘‘incredibly supportive’’ over the past nine years, and is also quick to pay tribute to the support he has received from his colleagues at Mercury. “I wasn’t long in a new team at the NCH when I had to undergo my operation, and everyone couldn’t have been more accommodating. It was a big weight off my shoulders. I’ve always given my best at work and it’s great to know that they support you as well. I know I can always go in and chat with them about different things, whether its professional or personal.”
He acknowledges that cancer made doing things he loves tougher, but he remains determined to fight the good fight. With much to look forward to this year, Andrew and his family are optimistic about the future. His family are expecting to welcome their third child soon and are excited about what lies ahead. Andrew’s story is a testament to his unwavering spirit, determination, and resilience in the face of adversity.
At Mercury, we drive a culture of wellbeing that enables our people to succeed and thrive.
The physical and mental wellbeing of our employees is of supreme importance. By cultivating a positive and engaging working environment that supports and nurtures, we believe that our staff are better placed to deliver top-class results.
You can read more about our employee wellbeing strategy by clicking here.
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