A 37-year-old Sydney man with one of the most aggressive and fast growing brain cancers has vowed to dedicate his days to helping others as fundraising efforts soar for the fight of his life.
After 12 months of headaches and unusual pains, Jacob Faulkner was devastatingly diagnosed with glioblastoma brain cancer in October. Despite his terminal prognosis, the Lower North Shore local says his positivity and being a “high energy person” have kept him strong.
“They [the doctors] have given me a rough sort of timeframe which is probably true,” Jacob told Yahoo News Australia. “But I am going to do everything I can to get past it because I want to dedicate more of my time to other people because to me that's actually a lot more important.
“The plan that I want is for us to smile every single day that we've got left.”
A year long diagnosis
Known by his friends for his “huge heart and beaming smile,” Jacob was living on “cloud nine” up until last month, having just landed his dream job in real estate sales. Months earlier, he’d even given up alcohol to focus on his career, life and health.
But in the background, the 37-year-old had been suffering from daily headaches and chest pains for a year. “I would go see a doctor from time to time and they would do scans on the brain but nothing was found,” he said.
By August, Jacob had begun to experience blackouts with a “metallic taste” in his mouth. When he collapsed on the Sydney Harbour Bridge while out for a run one morning, he knew “something was off”. Yet it wasn’t until his girlfriend encouraged him to see a doctor when the pain intensified that he sought help.
“We did a CAT scan immediately and they just said straight away, can you go sit outside,” Jacob said. “Within 10 to 15 seconds the doctor walked straight up to me and said, you need to go to hospital right now.”
That day Jacob suffered 15 seizures “which nearly ended” him. Less than a week later, he was diagnosed with glioblastoma brain cancer.
“They [the doctors] did mention to me, like what I have, only one person has ever survived,” he told Yahoo News Australia. “I've also said to them, well, if we get to that point, please use my brain to help others.”
A lasting wish to help
After an operation to remove as much of his tumours as possible, Jacob began daily radiation treatment last Thursday in a desperate bid to shrink them. In the meantime he’s moved in with his sister and nephew in Cronulla.
“I was adopted quite young and I've got two blood sisters who I protect from everything that I can,” he said. “We've also got other step brothers and sisters as well. There are about eight of us or so. I never wanted them, especially with what's going on now, to have to do anything to support me so I'm doing everything I can to look after them, considering the option that I've got in front of me.”
In his final wish, friends and family have rallied behind Jacob with a former colleague, mentor and mate, Dee Uther, launching a GoFundMe page.
“The medication, treatment and moving in with his sister who is a single mum was something that was stressing him out,” Dee said. “If we can take away any kind of financial stress for Jacob and his family to be able to give him every opportunity to be a miracle then that is what we want him to be able to do.”
“As s**t as it is what he's going through, he does just want people to realise that life’s great every day, and to be happy and positive because the next day you don't know. That is just how he’s always been. This isn't new. I guess that's why it's so grossly unfair.”
After setting an initial target, Dee and Jacob say they’ve been blown away with more than $61,000 in donations.
“I'm so grateful and you know, I have massive smiles on my face every single day but I also cry in the evenings,” Jacob said. “I’ve had people call me and said that we can’t donate anything and I’ve said, I don’t want you to, I just want you to smile as much as you can for me.”
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