Wollongong singer Rohan Herring’s performance on The X Factor tonight earned him a well-deserved handshake and hug from judge Ronan Keating.
The 25-year-old retail manager’s rendition of R Kelly’s ballad I Believe I Can Fly drew audiences to their feet and ‘‘floored’’ judge Keating who said Herring had ‘‘got him’’.
Watched on by his family and friends, Herring took to the X Factor stage during the Sydney auditions and told the judges he had been given a second change at life.
The singer was diagnosed with an aggressive form of leukaemia on May 25, 2011 after doctors discovered a 15cm tumour wrapped around his heart and left lung.
‘‘I was at the gym when I thought I cracked my ribs,’’ he said.
‘‘I was rushed to x-ray ... and it was my mum who told me ‘you have cancer’.’’
Herring underwent several months of chemotherapy, noting the diagnosis and battle was the ‘‘worst experience’’ of his life.
His mum Karen told the X-Factor Herring would finish treatment and then head straight into the spare bedroom to sing.
‘‘We believe [singing] got him through,’’ she said.
‘‘He should not be here ... it’s as simple as that.’’
Herring told Keating his songs had ‘‘got him through chemo’’ before he wowed audiences with his touching performance.
Judge RedFoo, frontman for band LMFAO, told Herring he had inspired millions of people, bringing the Illawarra man to tears.
‘‘You are an inspiration to not only the 7000 people here tonight but you’ve inspired millions of people to dream and to battle ... you are incredible,’’ he said.
Herring will now head off to X Factor boot camp with the other successful auditionees.