Rare cancer took my leg but won't take me: Warwick dad
WHAT started as a slight pain in Tim Gaske's right ankle has sent him and his young Warwick family on a long and challenging journey for the past 13 years.
After years of seeing specialists to alleviate the pain, Mr Gaske underwent surgery to stabilise the joint with a screw. When a second surgery to remove a nerve in his ankle still provided no relief, he began to suspect something deeper was wrong.
With a $50,000 (and growing) medical bill, a way forward was finally provided by Toowoomba specialist Dr Anthony Wilson whose drastic decision to remove the screw may have saved his life.
Dr Wilson discovered the real source of the pain was synovial sarcoma, one of the rarest forms of soft tissue cancers in the world.
Mr Gaske went through 25 radiotherapy sessions and an eight-hour resection operation that he described as the "worst night of his life" in an attempt to keep his leg.
Despite the operation's success, a lingering sample of sarcoma was found and he went back under the knife to remove his lower leg.
That saved the 38-year-old man's life.
Opening up about his experience in dealing with the "one in three million" case, Mr Gaske said the messages of support which have come flooding in had helped his young family deal with such an unexpected challenge.
"It's been a tumultuous few months," he said.
"My wife and kids have all been really positive about getting through this.
"We are a pretty private family but we realised the only way to get our story out there was to open up and let people know the full story.
"When you need help, the only way to get it is to ask and we've turned away from being the proud people to instead letting people in."
With his loving and dedicated partner, Rach, and three young children Macy, Hayden and Chloe lending their support at home, Mr Gaske said he counted himself a lucky man.
Since telling his story on social media, donations of $10 to $500 have raised up $7000 of the $30,000 the family needs to cover the expensive medical and rehabilitation costs.
With a long way still to go, Mr Gaske hopes telling his story will encourage others to lend a hand.
"There are a lot of rehabilitation costs and with the prosthetic and loss of work, it has been a big challenge," he said.
"It's the Australian way to lend a hand I guess.
"With the fundraising we've been doing through Rare Cancer Australia, everything goes towards the medical bills and rehab so you know it's all for a purpose."
With a long history of playing football for Queensland, Brisbane's XXXX league and even a tour of Japan, Mr Gaske said the relationships formed through football were turning out to be his greatest ally.
Messages of support and offers of help have been received from the Warwick Wolves Football Academy to even Tottenham Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino.
"They say it's karma and I guess that's what it is," he said.
"When I received a letter from the Spurs manager wishing me well in my surgery it just went to show that even a club that big can do something so special for someone."
The Warwick District Football Association has started a raffle to raise funds for the Gaske family, with the winner to get a pavilion worth $850 at the annual Warwick Cup.
It will be drawn on Saturday, September 10.
Damien Gibbons and his family are also holding a raffle that will be drawn at a sausage sizzle at their Pratten Pitstop takeaway on September 24.
To donate to help the Gaske family visit the fundraising page here