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Man Survives Cancer And Keeps His Voice Thanks To Grim Reaper Tattoo Used To Reconstruct His Neck

Claire Reid

| Last updated 

Man Survives Cancer And Keeps His Voice Thanks To Grim Reaper Tattoo Used To Reconstruct His Neck

A man who was diagnosed with cancer underwent life-saving surgery, which saw his throat reconstructed using skin from his arm that featured a tattoo of the Grim Reaper. 

Colin Riley, 50, was diagnosed with a life-threatening tumour in his throat in 2020 - he overcame the cancer thanks to a combination of treatments, but it returned in March 2021. 

Credit: SWNS
Credit: SWNS

This time, he was given the devastating news that without surgery he’d have just six months to live, so underwent the life-saving operation a couple of months later. 

The surgery involved medics reconstructing his tongue and throat by taking skin from his arm, which just so happened to be covered in an etching of the Grim Reaper. 

Colin said: "I know I’ve been lucky - years ago I had a friend who died of throat cancer.

"So when I was told there was nothing to worry about and the tumour was all gone, it was the best day of my life.

"I thank God for the technology and surgical advancement which have given me this second chance."

Credit: SWNS
Credit: SWNS

John Collin, the consultant who led on the reconstruction element of Colin’s surgery, said: “I’m sorry we spoilt Colin’s tattoo, but it’s always good to get one over on the Grim Reaper.”

Collin was first alerted to the fact something was wrong after suffering pains in his neck for two months back in 2020. 

An endoscopy revealed a lump at the back of his tongue, which turned out to be a cancerous tumour. 

After undergoing weeks of radiotherapy - things were looking more positive but in March last year he was told the cancer had returned and the tumour appeared to be more advanced. 

Credit: SWNS
Credit: SWNS

He and his partner Lisa were then given the devastating news that he would have just six months left to live if left untreated. 

Luckily, one of the surgeons felt confident that he could carry out the life-saving operation to remove the tumour but was warned that he may never be able to speak again. 

In May 2021, surgeons split Colin’s jaw bone to remove the tumour from the back of his throat.

Microscopic techniques were then used to reconstruct Colin’s tongue and voice box with tissue from his arm - complete with Reaper tattoo - and the inked skin from his forearm was moved to the back of his throat in the complex 12-hour operation.

Credit: SWNS
Credit: SWNS

Better yet, just one day after his surgery, he found out he would still be able to talk.

Twelve weeks after going under the knife, Colin and Lisa were given the wonderful news that the surgery had been a success and all of the tumour had been removed.

Colin said: “I was told that there was nothing to worry about and it was all out. It was the best day of my life.”

Featured Image Credit: SWNS

Topics: UK News

Claire Reid
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