Branxton school teacher Ben Lott will be on a plane to Tokyo early next week as he pursues a cure for an aggressive brain tumour.
The 39-year-old was diagnosed in June with a stage-four glioblastoma, the same cancer which has afflicted former Test cricketer Robert Holland this year.
He had part of the tumour removed and has had chemotherapy and radiation treatment, but the prognosis for glioblastoma patients is grim.
“They kept saying it’s not a cure; it’s here to just prolong your life,” his wife, Laurenn, told the Newcastle Herald. “It’s given him less than 12 months.”
But the couple, who have two young children, have vowed to try everything to fight the disease.
They have been “crazily researching” alternative treatments and found out this week that Ben had been accepted into a four-week peptide vaccine program in Japan.
News of Ben’s plight has sparked a flurry of fundraising events at Rosary Park Catholic School, where he teaches year four, in the wider Branxton community and in his home town of Gundagai, where his father and brother run Lotts Family Hotel in the main street.
The Elders Gundagai branch is running three auctions this month to raise money; students at Rosary Park raised $12,500 at a crazy hair day on Friday, when a group of boys and principal Will Callinan had their heads shaved; the school will host a Bucks For Ben community event on September 13; Ben’s golfing mates have organised a benefit weekend at Branxton Golf Club from November 3 to 5; and his daughter Charlize’s daycare centre is holding a raffle.
“We’re so overwhelmed,” Laurenn said. “I think the fact it is a small community and there’s two little kids – I think it’s that connection.
“People think it would be horrible for them to be going through the same thing.”
Ben played his first game of golf last week since being diagnosed and has stayed positive, an attitude which has rubbed off on his wife, a clinical psychologist.
“He is so positive. He just keeps saying, ‘We’re going to beat it. We’re going to find something that works’, which I think in these situations you need that attitude, otherwise you wouldn’t be able to get out of bed.
“He turns 40 in October. I said to him fingers crossed he’s going well and we’re definitely having a party.”
They kept saying it’s not a cure; it’s here to just prolong your life. It’s given him less than 12 months.Laurenn Lott