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‘It’s important to remember that cancer is not the end, it’s another step to another lifestyle’ – Bob Flavin

Bob Flavin

Bob Flavin is a Laois-based motor journalist and social media personality.

As well as being a regular contributor on RTÉ programming, he also runs a hugely popular YouTube channel, and has a large following on TikTok.

He recently gave an interview on RTÉ’s Today with Claire Byrne show, where he discussed his unfortunate cancer diagnosis.

“I was diagnosed with mouth cancer – which is officially called ‘Head and Neck Cancer’ – last May, I think it was,” Bob told Claire.

“I’ve had part of my mouth removed, and a skin-graft from my wrist put into my mouth to cover that hole.

“It changed my speech pattern and made it sort of difficult to talk – which is very weird for me, after 51 years of using my voice to communicate – now I really have to think about talking.”

Speaking of how the diagnosis came to be, Bob said he had no symptoms whatsoever.

“I had a small mouth ulcer and I spat some blood when I brushed my teeth – that was it, nothing else.

“I booked a dental hygienist cleaning, and when I was in there, she was cleaning away said ‘there’s something in your mouth, if that’s still there in two weeks, come back to us and we’ll look at it again.'”

When Bob returned two weeks later, the dentist sent him for a biopsy. The very next day, a consultant in Dublin Dental University broke the bad news that cancer was indeed present.

“That was the hardest conversation,” Bob said, ” because I still had no symptoms – I could see something in my mouth, but I had no pain, no discomfort, no change. I was doing ok, but suddenly there was cancer.

“A circus starts around you; they refer you to James’s, and refer you on; that all happens around you; you just attend things.

“So I met the met in (St James’s Hospital) in a group called ‘MaxFax,’ which is Maxillofacial, and they do facial reconstruction.

“They told me what was going to happen and that’s why I went public with it, because I knew then I was going to lose some of the power of speech; there’s a massive scar you can see running down my neck.”

Bob and Hannah Flavin

The procedure itself is “quite gruesome,” Bob said, which involves a ten-and-a-half-hour operation followed by five days in Intensive Care.

“It was probably the most surreal and weirdest experience of my entire life,” he said.

“Thanks to my family; thanks to my wife, who has been feeding me; and thanks to the huge work up in James’s Hospital, I actually recovered really fast.

“Within two days I was up and walking, and within five days I was outside the hospital walking around.

“The recovery is very quick – if you’re fit. If you go into hospital unfit and with other problems, it’s much more difficult to recover.

“So I trained for the four weeks leading up to (the surgery), I was going running, walking, cycling. I was out nearly every day doing 5k to get my heart very fit so I could withstand the operating theatre.


Bob says the time following the operation has been the most difficult part of the entire ordeal.

“Some of my mouth doesn’t work. Inside my mouth, there’s been a small change to the patch, so it’s allowing air down my left nostril – that’s why I felt so nasally.

“I need to get radiotherapy as well. Now I have to go to a different hospital – St Luke’s – much harder to get to.

“For six weeks, five days a week – it’s like a full-time job – you get radiotherapy just to make sure there’s nothing left.

“Then you need a second surgery to fit a patch on my mouth to bring it all back to normal.

“Hopefully by Christmas-time I’ll be as close to normal as I’ve ever been.”


Bob says that while his body has recovered, he is still having huge problems with his speech, his breathing, and eating.

But he remains remarkably upbeat and positive, saying: “It’s important to remember that cancer is not the end, it’s another step to another lifestyle.

“It will consume you if you don’t do anything about it.”

You can listen to the full interview here.

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