James Franklin, with dog Ash, is raising money for "Movember" but because of his cancer treatment, is unable to grow a moustache. He is currently the third highest money raiser in the ACT. Photo: Graham Tidy
James Franklin can't grow his own mo this year but that hasn't stopped him from being in the top three fundraisers in Australia for Movember. Let's get him to the top of the table, Canberra.
The 20-year-old from Farrer has been fundraising for Movember in the midst of chemotherapy to treat a rare form of testicular cancer. The tumour actually developed in his chest, originating from germ cells when he was an embryo. The cells were meant to migrate to his testes but instead developed into a tumour.
James already had a rough start to life, born with a rare heart condition that required open-heart surgery when he was just three. But it turned out to be a stroke of luck. He was booked in for further heart surgery in July this year and scans beforehand found a mass about the size of a lemon in his chest. It was removed at the time of his other procedure.
"It would have been a week or so after the operation when they gave us the call to say it was cancerous. That was pretty horrible at the time," he said.
But with the support of his family - mum Suellen, dad Michael and brother Matthew - James quickly harnessed the medical support he needed.
The former Marist College student has been undergoing four rounds of chemotherapy, which has continued over weeks, finally finishing on Friday.
And, through it all, he has been raising money for Movember, the moustache-growing event in November to raise funds and awareness to help improve men's health, especially those suffering from prostate or testicular cancer or mental health issues.
By midday on Friday, he had raised more than $11,100 - and rising - making him the third-highest individual fundraiser in Australia. It started pretty simply just by posting on Facebook but quickly spread throughout social media.
"My aim was to raise $1000 this year but I raised $5000 within the first seven days, which was just amazing," he said.
"I had a lot of donations from school mates and a lot of people I never really knew. And it's been fantastic, keeping me positive and distracted organising little fundraiser events."
A passionate AFL follower and Sydney Swans fan, James also has a team named in his owner for Movember - Franko's Mo Bros - started by his old footy coach at Marist, Russell Fort. It has so far raised $12,630.
It's remarkable that when James is meeting his own health challenges, he can turn his mind to the needs of others.
"I've got a very positive attitude probably because of my family and friends, they've been amazing," he said.
"Mum every single day sits with me during chemo or if I'm in hospital. Dad comes in whenever he gets a chance or when I'm in home. Even my brother who has his year 12 exams coming up - I'm sitting on the couch and don't have any energy to move half the time, he gets up and gets me things. They've just been fantastic looking after me."
The hope now is that scans next year will show that the cancer has been eradicated.
In the meantime, James is happy to wear a drawn-on moustache to keep campaigning for Movember.
"My little cousins have been making them for me," he said.