Teen singer who ‘lost’ voice to cancer makes emotional comeback

A singer who lost her "identity and her voice" to cancer has announced her comeback by releasing a new single.

Musician Ruby Walvin, a student at Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts (LIPA), was just 19 when she was diagnosed with leukaemia.

During her gruelling treatment she became so distressed and weakened that she stopped singing and was unable to play the guitar.

However Ruby, now 21, released her new single The Game today and has made her incredible story into a moving film, featuring her song, for charity Teenage Cancer Trust’s new Unstoppable campaign.

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Ruby was in her first year of university at LIPA when she began to feel fatigued, and after collapsing and being admitted to hospital, tests found she had Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia.

She said: “I knew I needed my family around me during treatment, so I decided to come home to Leicester.”

The Teenage Cancer Trust funds 28 specialist units around the country, including in Leicester, to help young people cope with cancer and be treated by teenage cancer experts in a place designed for them.

Despite support from the charity, Ruby suffered gruelling side effects from her illness and treatment, including sepsis in her shoulder and surgery which stopped her from singing and playing the guitar for months.

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LIPA student Ruby, 21, who has released a special single after "losing" her voice to cancer

She said: “I didn’t sing for eight months after my treatment started as I felt too ill and it was mentally painful, and I couldn’t play the guitar after the operation.

"I lost my identity, and my voice.”

Ruby says the Teenage Cancer Trust enabling her mum to stay with her overnight was a massive boost.

She said: "I was transferred to the Teenage Cancer Trust unit at the Leicester Royal Infirmary.

"When we arrived, the staff offered my mum tea and toast. It was so nice that they were there as being welcomed in such a friendly way made things easier.

LIPA student Ruby, 21, who has released a special single after "losing" her voice to cancer, pictured with her mum

"I’d gone from being on an adult ward in Liverpool where they woke me at 7am and had strict visiting times, to my mum being able to stay overnight on the unit.

"It was a very traumatic time so it was a massive thing that she could be there with me."

“The mental effect of treatment was very bad, and I got very low moods.

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"My mum stayed at the hospital every night to support me. When I woke from morphine-induced nightmares I needed her there to calm me down."

Eventually Ruby's treatment began to force the cancer into a retreat and she started down the long road to recovery.

As she regained her strength and confidence, she began to try music again.

She said: “I hadn’t played or sung for months – and I was worried that I wouldn’t be any good anymore. But it made me realise how far I’d come.

"During treatment I’d jotted down lyrics here and there about what was happening to me.

LIPA student Ruby, 21, who has released a special single after "losing" her voice to cancer, being held by her mum during treatment

"As I had to shield at home during the pandemic, I had more time on my hands, and I started to put them together to music.

"My new single, The Game, is the result. It’s about how overcoming obstacles in life is like overcoming different levels on a game.

"Not all of the friends I met on the Teenage Cancer Trust survived. I get upset when people refer to people with cancer as ‘having lost their battle’.

"We have no control over what happens to us, whether we live or die.

"We just play the game as best we can and that is what the song is about, but really anyone going through struggles in life will be able to identify with the lyrics."

Ruby is now back in Liverpool and despite ongoing treatment hopes to return to her studies later this year.

The Unstoppable campaign celebrates the strength and determination of young people with cancer like Ruby during the pandemic and the Teenage Cancer Trust staff supporting them – despite the charity’s 50% drop in income due to cancelled fundraising events.

Ruby is now back in Liverpool and despite ongoing treatment hopes to return to her studies later this year.

Her single can be downloaded here.

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