On January 31, Marcus Whelan broke his leg while water-skiing and within hours had been delivered the life-changing diagnosis that he had brain cancer.
Because Mr Whelan hit the waters of Deep Lake, near Lismore, at 70kmh he was treated as a trauma victim when he arrived at Ballarat Hospital. In addition to x-rays of his leg he also had x-rays, a CT scan and MRI to check for injuries to his spine, neck, ribs and head.
It was a scan of his head that revealed a large tumour, between the size of a golf ball and baseball, located above and behind the left ear on the brain's speech centre.
The former St Patrick's College student suspected something was wrong when a nurse told him the doctor had been pacing up and down outside his room.
"(The doctor) sat on the bed, nervous, and I said 'what's the matter ... it's a broken leg yeah?," Mr Whelan said.
Anyone who has had the fortune of knowing Marcus is aware of his big heart and generosity. He is always there to help others with his huge smile and zest for lifeJoy Bueti
"He said he didn't know how to tell me, but I'm the kind of guy who likes to be told straight, so he just said 'you've got brain cancer'."
The water-skiing accident inadvertently saved his life, allowing doctors to find the tumour earlier than they would otherwise.
Even so, when Mr Whelan met with cancer specialists in Melbourne two days after his accident they were amazed he was still talking given the size of the tumour.
After allowing Mr Whelan's leg to heal, he underwent surgery on May 25 where 70 per cent of the tumour was removed. The surgeon was unable to remove any more of the tumour for fear of permanent damage.
"One of the hardest parts of the operation was being awake. Then post-surgery being in lockdown because I couldn't have any visitors in hospital," he said.
As the tumour was in the speech centre of the brain, he was unable to talk after the surgery.
"All I had was FaceTime which didn't really work for me," he said.
Recently Mr Whelan has also had to regain his speech for a second time after a seizure three weeks ago left him without the ability to talk.
Mr Whelan, wife Meg and their three children Maddison, 11, James, 9, and Harry, 18 months, are now waiting for him to have an MRI scan in September to reveal what the tumour is doing and what the future holds for them.
"If it has grown significantly I'll be straight in to 12 months of radiotherapy and chemotherapy, and if it stays the same we'll keep monitoring it," he said.
Because the family live in Bacchus Marsh it has not yet been decided whether he'll be treated in Melbourne or at Ballarat Regional Integrated Cancer Centre at BHS if he has to have the radiotherapy and chemotherapy.
"The best way to get rid of my tumour is to operate again, which could be in three months, six months, five years or 10 years," he said.
No matter what happens at his September brain scan, the recent seizure means Mr Whelan cannot drive for at least the next six months, another cruel blow for the truck-driver by trade. But he considers himself lucky because his employer is paying him a base wage while he recovers and his wife, who runs family day care at their home, is still able to work.
When he needs, he just finds a quiet space in the house to relax.
IN OTHER NEWS
The family have been buoyed by community support after a friend set up a GoFundMe to help them with the additional medical and living expenses while he fights brain cancer.
"Anyone who has had the fortune of knowing Marcus is aware of his big heart and generosity. He is always there to help others with his huge smile and zest for life," said friend Joy Bueti.
Mr Whelan is well known around Bacchus Marsh as a supporter of children's sport including basketball and Auskick, volunteering at school events, playing cricket for Darley, Super Rules Football for Melton Masters and more.
Our team of local journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the Ballarat community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content: