Ex-Seahawk punter reveals skin cancer diagnosis

Jon Ryan, who played in Seattle from 2008-2018, expects to make a full recovery following surgery.

By Bob Condotta

The Seattle Times

Former Seahawks punter Jon Ryan has announced he was recently diagnosed with skin cancer on his neck and will have to undergo surgery, though for now the procedure is being delayed due to the coronavirus outbreak.

“Luckily, it’s a pretty slow-moving cancer that the doctor is very confident that he can wait until after the coronavirus has swept through to operate on,” Ryan said.

Ryan, currently a member of the Saskatchewan Roughriders of the Canadian Football League after playing for the Seahawks from 2008-18, talked about his situation during an appearance on the Growing the Game podcast this weekend.

Ryan said the cancer, which he described as being on his neck in an area just below where a football helmet would stop covering, was discovered during an annual full body scan with a dermatologist.

Ryan noted his family has a history of cancer, with his father, Bob, dying of the disease in 2006 when Ryan was a rookie in the NFL with the Green Bay Packers, and his mother having battled thyroid cancer. Ryan said he has always taken every precaution to protect his skin and has annual checkups because he is light-skinned and said he knows he is susceptible to getting cancer.

“I’ve always been very diligent,” Ryan said. “Gone once a year to a dermatologist to get a full body scan and get everything checked.”

Ryan said the cancer developed out of a mark on his neck that he said was frozen off last year but then grew back even bigger, and was then diagnosed as cancerous.

“It’s a scare at first, whenever you hear the C word, that you have some type of cancer,” Ryan said of the diagnosis.

Ryan, who is currently living in the Los Angeles during the offseason with his wife, comedian Sarah Colonna, said because the area on his neck where the cancer developed was just below the helmet line and in the sun, “it was kind of an area that was susceptible.”

Colonna took to Twitter to say that Ryan will be “totally fine” once he has surgery.

“Luckily he gets his skin checked yearly and after they remove the spot he will be all good,” she wrote. “It is contained to that spot.”

Ryan said he went public with his diagnosis to bring awareness to skin cancer.

“Want to make that a little bit of a message to be careful with your skin,” he said. “Sometimes you can’t even do enough. Have to keep being checked by a dermatologist and get a full body scan.”

Ryan, 38, is tied for ninth in Seahawks history in games played with 159 and is the team’s career leader in virtually every career punting category.

He joined the Roughriders last season after having been waived by Seattle in training camp in 2018. Ryan re-signed with the Roughriders last month with a one-year contract after leading the CFL with an average of 48.8 yards per punt last season, which set a Saskatchewan franchise record.

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