THE president of Ross High RFC has said he discovered he had tonsil cancer after noticing something abnormal in his throat when taking a Covid-19 test last summer, as he revealed he had just a year to live.

John Tinlin, 57, of Kerr Road, Tranent, was taking a routine Covid test at an East Lothian walk-in centre last June when he noticed something strange at the back of his throat.

Following the test, John booked in to see his local dentist after being unable to secure a doctors’ appointment.

It was there, at a clinic in Tranent, that the rugby coach was referred for a hospital appointment that would change his life forever.

Following numerous tests and MRI scans, doctors delivered the devastating news that the father-of-four had tonsil cancer.

'I saw something at the back of my throat'

The former Tranent Primary School and Ross High School pupil told the Courier: “It was last June that I had a really tickly throat and decided to take a Covid test at a drive-in centre.

“When taking the test, I saw something at the back of my throat that I found concerning.

“There were no doctors’ appointments at the time and so I thought on my feet before booking a dental appointment.”

Tonsil cancer is an abnormal growth of cells that forms in a tonsil.

Treatment for this type of cancer includes radiotherapy, chemotherapy and immunotherapy drugs.

Soon after his diagnosis, John started rounds of radiotherapy which unfortunately did not work and he was told that his cancer was terminal.

'I've been given around a year to live'

“I’ve been given around a year to live,” he said.

John’s beloved wife of 10 years Gillian, and his four children and eight grandchildren, are the driving force of his determination to battle as hard as he can against the disease, which is three to four times more likely to affect men than women.

The well-respected rugby stalwart said that his time with cancer had taken a massive physical toll.

He said: “I am a shadow of my former self, having lost nine stone in weight.

“In April, I medically retired as a gravedigger for East Lothian Council because it’s all taken a toll and I can no longer work.

“I loved the job.

“I loved helping people and speaking with people, especially during Covid when times were so hard.

“We did the best we could to be there for families, mothers and fathers, people I went to school with even.

“I did my best to make them feel comfortable and have gained a lot of friends through this work.”

43 years with Ross High

After leaving school, John worked in the coal mines for 10 years.

John has been president of Ross High RFC for eight years but has been involved in the club for 43, having played rugby all his life from the time he began high school.

He has now started immunotherapy.

Speaking on how his family had taken the news, John said: “It’s been pretty tough and a big strain on my wife Gillian.

“But they know I am a fighter, they know I will do my best to fight.

“Now, it’s all about spending as much time with them as possible.”

He extended a thank you to his great friends from Ross High RFC for their ongoing support and said he had enjoyed getting suited and booted for the annual Captain’s Dinner on Friday evening.

'Proud of my boys'

John added: “It was a great evening and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The speeches were great and I was proud to see my two boys, Nick and Chris, win awards.

“Unfortunately, I couldn’t partake in the meal as I am now on a liquid diet.”

And John shared love and hope for the future and a thank you to his family, saying: “I am so grateful for the support from my family.

“They would do anything for me.”

Kenny McLeod, Tranent, Wallyford and Macmerry councillor, said: “I’ve known John for years.

“He’s always been a rugby man and I’ve always been a football man but he is an absolute stalwart of Tranent, both in the East Lothian Council amenities team and a stalwart of Ross High RFC.

“He has been absolutely great for the council, repeatedly solving and sorting problems, and a really good ambassador for the council.

“It is terribly sad news and he’s a great guy and he really loved his job.”