Twelve-year-old Marcus Geier of Isaacs, with his dog Baxter. Marcus has a brain tumor and his mother is trying to raise $70,000 for a life saving operation. Photo: Graham Tidy GGT
A WEEK before Christmas, 12-year-old Marcus Geier was told he had an apricot-sized tumour right in the middle of his brain between his eye and ear.
Now the family is trying to raise $70,000 to pay for world-renowned neurosurgeon Charlie Teo to remove the growth.
Epidermoid tumours are benign skin cells that are in the wrong place during foetal development.
They are slow-growing but can cause significant damage and the tumour in Marcus' head will interfere with his vision if it gets bigger.
No one can tell the family when the tumour will start causing damage. Neurosurgeons at the Canberra Hospital advocated a wait-and-see approach but a second opinion from Dr Teo in March recommended the tumour be removed immediately.
Marcus' mother, Lisa Misson, said waiting for a ticking bomb to go off was not an option.
''When asked if it isn't better to operate when the tumour is smaller rather than larger, [the] doctors at Canberra Hospital said 'You don't understand; we'd have to cut through a lot of brain tissue to remove this tumour'.''
Dr Teo uses minimally invasive surgery - an eyebrow incision, reducing the risk significantly.
But his skills come with a hefty price tag, money the family does not have.
"We need to pay $70,000 upfront even before we can book in. We had been relying on the equity in our home in Bundaberg but the 2013 floods hit it,'' Ms Misson said.
So far, donations have totalled more than $25,000.
"The support we've received from friends, family and people we don't know is phenomenal. It is amazing how the community, on a global scale, has been so generous and caring. We're very grateful for every contribution that has been made," she said.
The surgery was initially planned for August, but the family is hoping it will be done sooner.
''Given what we're seeing with the generosity, and Marcus getting headaches, we'd like it to be sooner,'' Ms Misson said.
The boy said his headaches were getting worse and he wanted the growth removed.
"I don't like the headaches and I don't want to go blind or deaf.''
For the Isaacs family it's been a difficult decision to go public and ask for help. Ms Misson said Marcus' dreams of being a zoologist would die if he lost his sight.
"We've had to swallow our pride and our life of anonymity, and we've had to ask for help and that's not easy. But when it's your child you do anything.''