THANKS: Joel North, from Lismore, is grateful for those who donated to crowdfunding, which has enabled him to have an operation to remove a brain tumour.
THANKS: Joel North, from Lismore, is grateful for those who donated to crowdfunding, which has enabled him to have an operation to remove a brain tumour. Sophie Moeller

Thank you, date now set

IN JOEL North's phone, he has the guy who donated $10,000 to his GoFundMe campaign labelled as "the most beautiful man in the world”.

The significant donation was just one of hundreds that have enabled him to book the life-saving brain surgery he requires from prominent surgeon, Dr Charlie Teo.

Joel and his partner, Anita, have had to raise $130 000, up front, to have the golf-ball sized tumour removed from his brain after he was unexpectedly felled by a seizure in early March. The operation is now scheduled for April 15.

Oke Andersson, from Casino, has lost his wife and many of his friends to cancer and, for the past eight years, has dedicated his life to raising money for brain cancer. He was happy to make the donation, he said.

"He cruises around with a wheelbarrow, a paint drum and a teddy bear with a sign saying kick cancer,” said Joel, "it's really cute. He really is a beautiful man.”

Having performed 11,000 brain surgeries, Joel gets great comfort from knowing Dr Teo will be performing the operation. Dr Teo's approach is to take out the whole tumour in one operation rather than in stages, which had been the advice of his initial surgeons. Dr Teo advised if the operation was successful there would be a better chance the tumour would not return or get worse.

Joel said "the support and love in the community” he and Anita had experienced made it "hard to be scared or sad”, but the magnitude of the procedure was now beginning to sink in.

Anita, who is originally from Lismore, met Joel at 15 at his school in Kingscliff.

"She was the new girl at the school and something about her just triggered me. I was just fascinated with her. We've played ever since.”

The couple returned from the Gold Coast 12 years ago. For the past five years Joel has worked as a disability support worker in the region.

"Depending on how the surgery goes, I am not unfamiliar with living with a disability, and I know there is lots of support in this region, if it comes to that, although I really don't want that outcome,” he said.

Of the GoFundMe campaign, Joel said: " there is a lot of negative stuff on social media a lot of the time but, when something like this happens, you realise how amazing humans can be”.

"Lismore is the most beautiful community. To have raised so much money ($117 000) in just a matter of weeks, we are just blown away.”

"We are super grateful for what has happened but are now just taking one day at a time.

The couple are now expecting their first child with Anita about to enter their second trimester.

"It should be my time to pampering and looking after her, but she is staying strong, which is awesome but kind of heartbreaking as well.

"Thankfully the baby is growing nice and healthy through these hectic times.

Joel is holding firm to his mother's advice that "from adversity comes equal or greater opportunity and - you do just get stronger from the hard times”.

On Saturday, a fundraiser will be held for the couple's support at Korinderie Ridge with wood fired pizza and music. RSVP to Tara by phoning 0439 605 333.

To donate, visit gofundme .com and search for "Joel North".


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